Numbers down for ambulance service

By Sarah Pridgeon

2011 was the least profitable year for Sundance Emergency Services since 2004, with the fewest number of calls in the same period, according to the annual report from Dioné Moon, Sundance EMS Director. The drop in revenue was partly caused by a lower number of calls and partly the result of dwindling numbers of available crew.

Total net income was reported to be $97,847.07, a potential revenue of which Medicare is expected to pay 80 percent, while calls dropped over the year to 331. “We usually get something like 400,” says Moon.

Larry Goodson, Council Member, speaking at this month’s regular meeting of the Sundance City Council, commented that, despite the drop, a positive income is impressive because “ambulances don’t usually make money.” Moon explained that an improvement in billing procedure has helped with this, agreeing with Mayor Paul Brooks’ statement that “we break even when people pay.”

“We’ve also had quite a few staff leave, so numbers are down there, too,” Moon continues. “The good news is that most of them have gone on to bigger and better things, including nurse school and paramedic school.”

Replacements, she explains, must attend state-hosted classes. “There are only so many classes per county, per year, but I believe there will be a basic one in the fall in Pine Haven for anyone interested in joining the service.”

Moon will also be running a Basic Emergency Care Provider class in April or May, which will provide a good introduction to emergency service work. The 40-hour course is a state certification that will train attendees to be First Responders and will include basic first aid, teaching such skills as automatic exterior defibrillation, splinting and bandaging and CPR.

“A First Responder can do everything an EMT can do, except to go out alone on an ambulance call,” says Moon. “First Responders must recertify every two years – as must EMTs and paramedics. It takes a lot of continuing education to remain qualified as part of the emergency services.”

Moon herself will be leaving Sundance EMS as Director at the end of the month, but will remain part of the crew. “I’ve done 25 years, it’s time for a break,” she says. “I still want to be an EMT like the rest of the staff, and do a shift or two per week, but not the administrative part.”

Sundance EMS traveled a total of 16,711 miles over 2011, 8893 of which were patient miles. Of the calls received, 108 were emergency callouts, 142 were transfers and 74 were trauma calls.