Grand Lake’s fire department will soon be officially expanding into the world of emergency medical services.
Over the last several months the Grand Lake Fire Protection District has been in the process of ramping up its advanced life support and emergency medical service capabilities. The district shifted to providing advanced life support services a little over two months ago at the beginning of May and purchased two used ambulances a few weeks later.
Members of the Grand Lake Fire District are currently fielding emergency medical calls within the district though they are not able to actually transport any patients as they await license approval from Grand County government. Grand Lake Fire Chief Kevin Ratzmann said he would be, “very happy” if the district receives it license from the county by Aug. 1.
Ratzmann said Grand Lake Fire plans to begin assuming control of all emergency medical service calls within the Grand Lake Fire protection district and extending south on US Highway 34 to milepost 5, near Coffee Divide. Ratzmann contextualized the plan to expand into emergency medical service through speed of service and response times.
“If we are trying to provide the best level of care, it makes sense to send the closest unit,” Ratzmann said.
According to Ratzmann Grand Lake’s emergency medical personnel have arrived first on scene at 30 of the 32 calls for service they have fielded since beginning to service emergency medical calls earlier this year. Ratzmann said the district expects to hire nine additional employees to serve as both firefighters and emergency medical personnel as they move forward with their plans.
The push to expand Grand Lake Fire’s emergency medical services is part of an overall vision Ratzmann has regarding emergency services within the Grand Lake area and Grand County more broadly.
“We are offering advanced life support and we are already an all hazard agency,” Ratzmann said. “We want to be one call does it all kind of guys, we want to provide all services.”
Ratzmann said he hopes to continue the expansion of the scope of services provided by Grand Lake Fire by looking to develop a countywide fire district.
“We need to go to a Grand County Fire and EMS or Fire and Rescue program,” Ratzmann said. “That is where we are pushing. My board is prepared to talk to the county about pursuing a fire and EMS authority within the county.”
Grand Lake Fire’s move to begin providing emergency medical services in the Three Lakes region has implications for Grand County EMS and its annual budget. A portion of the annual budget for Grand County EMS is derived from property taxes levied within the Grand Lake area. Ratzmann
“If we are providing service to the community we should be provided funding in some way,” Ratzmann said.
Ratzmann said Grand Lake Fire is looking to avoid any immediate impacts on Grand County’s EMS budget and has requested additional funds from Grand County government through supplemental federal tax funds the county receives known as PILT, payment in lieu of taxes, funds.
“Our constituency has said they don’t feel it is appropriate for them to be paying twice,” Ratzmann said. “But we don’t want to hurt the rest of the county. We made an offer that they can keep that money (mill levy tax funds) if we get money from PILT.”
Officials from Grand County EMS did not respond to requests for comment on this story.