Grand Lake’s Town Board room was packed to capacity Monday night with concerned residents seeking resolution over the potential loss of our Grand Lake based ambulance. The conversations between residents and the county’s Lee Stabb and Ray Jennings with EMS were well-modulated and at times even creative. Grand Lake was the first in the county to start a 24/7 fire and ambulance service, an uphill battle precipitated by need. However, to understand the true gravity of the situation, history and facts must be reviewed:
a. Since we lost our Grand Lake school, we also lost the vitality of residential younger families and have now become a “seriously aging” community. Loosing an accessible ambulance housed in Grand Lake is tantamount to disaster for many residents, veterans, and infirmed.
b. In addition we are hosts and quite responsible for 530,000 annual travellers who go through our western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. These visitors are frequently less than cautious, sometimes blatantly so, and thus frequent recipients of our Grand Lake housed EMS services.
c. Although Grand Lake’s portion of the mil levy to fund GCEMS is $240-250,000 annually, EMS staffing, unknown previously to most of us, has been steadily declining in 2017 to only one to two days per week.
d. We were told they staff our village usually on Friday/Saturday busy nights when there is most need. “And do I need to plan my heart attack for the weekend?” one concerned but witty resident asked.
e. Although it was initially stated that we had too few incidents to warrant full-time service, we have discovered that we actually run about 150 calls from Grand Lake and an additional 25 calls to RMNP annually, many urgent needs for quick response time.
f. The initial reporting that the response time from Granby to Grand Lake is only “several minutes” longer than response time from Grand Lake to an emergency is ludicrous. Ambulance response time from Granby is a confirmed additional 15 minutes — a time bomb in life/death situations.
g. Training volunteer EMT’s is a noble suggestion but they should only support medics and professional EMTs so as not to compromise the responsibility that the community of Grand Lake currently funds.
We are all in this together. We need a 24/7 ambulance staffed and stationed in Grand Lake.
As our former mayor, Gene Stover, said “sharpen your pencils and make it work.”
Avis Gray, Grand Lake