Castle Rock Ambulance Focuses on Controlling Expenses and Recruitment

Castle Rock Ambulance Focuses on Controlling Expenses and Recruitment

Castle Rock Ambulance Facebook photo

GREEN RIVER — Controlling expenses and overtime hours, along with recruiting staff are currently Castle Rock Ambulance Service’s main focuses, according to Castle Rock Hospital District CEO Bailie Dockter.

Representatives of the hospital district provided an update on ambulance services during the Sweetwater County commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday. Dockter also formally introduced Kim White as the new director of EMS (emergency medical services) for Castle Rock Hospital District. White started in her position as director in October after working for Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County for about nine years.

Commissioner Island Richards questioned the hospital district about a letter the commissioners received stating that an ambulance never showed up to a call. He asked whether or not their transports are the reason the ambulance never showed. Dockter said that they have three ambulances staffed, and that one of those is removed from 911 calls due to transports. However, she said their data has shown them that this is appropriate and that they would not operate this way otherwise.

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White said that the call in question took place on a Saturday, and that the call was cancelled before the ambulance could get there and that the person did not have to go to the hospital.

“We had one transport going to Utah, we had one transport going out for Air Med, and we had the 911 call so all three of our trucks were busy. I received a call from the supervisor asking if I could go and respond to that 911 call, it was in Rock Springs. I live in Green River, so by the time I got up to the ambulance to go over there, I had been notified by the supervisor that we had been cancelled by Rock Springs Fire Department,” White explained. “It seems there was a lack of communication over the radio so people were confused by that because it was all going on behind the scenes. But that’s what happened that day, I was trying to get there, we were just cancelled before I was able to get over there.”

Controlling Expenses and Recruiting

Dockter reported that the biggest challenges Castle Rock faces in providing ambulance service are controlling expenses and recruiting. She said that expenses are a challenge in EMS as revenue, the number of calls they get, and the number of transports they do are always random and out of their control.

“Recruiting is also a challenge for EMS in this community. We have made some contacts with the state and the education coalition so we’re hoping to be able to work closely with them,” she said.

Three EMS staff members recently got their intermediate licenses, moving up from the basic licenses, Dockter said. She said that this will help some in the level of care Castle Rock can offer. Ambulance services are shorthanded on full-time equivalent employees in the advanced level of care. “Promoting up will help that kind of thing, but we’re always looking for good help and trying to think of creative ways to try and recruit people to our area.”

Financial Success Expected

As for the financials for ambulance services, CFO Todd Toolson said that they are off to a better start this fiscal year than they expected.

“We’re on pace to be profitable, with the help of the county subsidy,” Toolson said, stating that they could have a profit between $50,000 and $300,000 this fiscal year.

While he said that is a wide range, Castle Rock’s contract with the county states that the contracted subsidy will decrease by the amount of profit Castle Rock has. The current subsidy from the county is $1.8 million per year at a maximum.

Toolson said that the revenue being higher than expected is due to having more 911 calls, long distance transports, and transports to the airport from the hospital than they expected. He said that with the increased revenue and calls, they have also had an increase in overtime.

“We’re doing a little bit worse than expected on wages, although when you have increase revenue, you plan on having increased hours as well. We did have some substantial overtime early in the year and I’m happy to report that has dissipated somewhat,” Toolson said.