News Flash

Summit County Government

Posted on: April 5, 2019

Summit Fire & EMS and Summit County to Merge Ambulance Services

Summit Fire & EMS firefighters and Summit County Ambulance Service paramedics at the shared Station

Planned consolidation of emergency medical services aims to increase efficiency of ambulance operations

Contacts: 
Steve Lipsher, Community Resource Officer, 970-262-5100, ext. 125
Sarah Vaine, Assistant County Manager, 970-668-4006

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County Ambulance Service and Summit Fire & EMS will merge into a single organization under an agreement in principle reached this week between the Summit County Board of Commissioners and the Summit Fire Board of Directors.

After significant analysis, planning and collaboration, the two entities unanimously decided to pursue a merger in operations by July 1 and a formal financial and legal unification by Jan. 1, 2020.

“We've studied this system from all angles, with the help of independent experts in the emergency-services field,” Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. “We've concluded that the best and most efficient model for our community is a single, seamless emergency-response organization.”

Summit County, Summit Fire and Red, White & Blue Fire contracted with Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) to perform a third-party analysis of the local EMS system in December 2017. The company reviewed all aspects of the community's delivery of emergency medical services, including operations, administration, staffing, revenues, costs, capital facilities, vehicles, equipment, service delivery, operational performance, inter-facility transports and projections of future demands.

ESCI laid out potential paths forward for EMS service delivery in Summit County, including consolidation of Summit County Ambulance Service and Summit Fire & EMS, with the county providing EMS system oversight and regulatory compliance, and Summit Fire taking over direct provision of ambulance service.

The two organizations already are jointly constructing a new administration building in the Summit County Commons near Frisco, scheduled to open this spring. The 9,400-square-foot building will house all administrative functions of Summit County Ambulance Service and Summit Fire & EMS, as well as Summit Fire's permit and inspection functions.

Summit Fire and Summit County Ambulance Service have shared staffing and housing at Station 1 in Copper Mountain, Station 8 in Dillon and Station 11 in Keystone for years, and firefighters have been cross-staffing on ambulances on each shift for more than two years.

“Everyone at Summit County and Summit Fire remains committed to the high level of patient care that Summit County residents have come to expect,” said Summit Fire Chief Jeff Berino. “And with the construction of the shared new building, the timing is perfect for us to come together as a single organization.”

Looking ahead, the two organizations will begin negotiations on the formal agreements required to implement the merger. The result will be the second-largest emergency-response agency on the Western Slope, with more than 100 employees. Red, White & Blue Fire will remain an independent, stand-alone entity covering emergency response in Breckenridge and southern Summit County.

“There are still certain financial challenges associated with running ambulance services in a rural resort area, but this consolidated model will help us take advantage of economies of scale that will improve efficiency while maintaining a high standard of service,” Stiegelmeier said.

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