SHERIDAN — Goose Valley Volunteer Fire Department will stop its medical transport services sometime in March. The action will benefit the volunteer fire district financially and make little impact on medical services provided.
“We’ll [continue] as first responders to medical calls; that won’t change,” Goose Valley Fire Chief Bob Williams said. “We just won’t be an ambulance transport.”
Rocky Mountain Ambulance contracts with the city of Sheridan and Sheridan County to provide ambulance services for the area. The city currently pays RMA $120,000 per year for the services, while the county pays $156,000 annually.
RMA works with the Sheridan Fire-Rescue Department, which serves as the next in line if all of RMA’s rigs are responding to medical calls.
GVFD served as the “fifth call,” or the fifth rig to respond to a medical call if the original three RMA rigs and the Sheridan Fire-Rescue ambulance were already in service.
Last year, Williams estimated the volunteer department only responded to one medical call where it utilized its ambulance. Most of the time, dispatch alerts GVFD volunteers to be ready as the next responder, but an RMA rig usually becomes available before Goose Valley’s services are needed.
This year, Rocky Mountain Ambulance added a fourth rig to its staffing levels. This allows RMA more flexibility with calls, and means they can rely less on Sheridan Fire-Rescue and volunteer fire departments to respond to calls with ambulances. Those fire departments still go to calls regularly as first responders to assist RMA.
RMA co-owner Troy Goodwin said the company keeps finding more ways to utilize the fourth ambulance. RMA initially added it to help with increasing out-of-town transports.
Now, the fourth ambulance remains ready, alongside three others, for service 12 hours during the day. The fourth rig is not utilized at night, which Goodwin said is a low call volume time.
Goodwin expressed some concern about the impact of GVFD’s rig no longer being available for rural parts of Sheridan County, but Williams said RMA’s additional rig makes the chances of needing Goose Valley ambulance assistance very low.
Costs to keep an ambulance up to code, fully stocked with non-expired medical supplies and maintained among the volunteer fire department’s nine other rigs proved inefficient for Goose Valley’s volunteer crew.
Williams said his team will stay current on emergency medical technician and emergency medical responder certifications and will continue to assist RMA on medical calls as needed.