Smith told the Grand County Council on Tuesday, June 4, he wants the local EMS office to attain certification as a paramedic agency from the Utah Bureau of Emergency Services.
“There are financial incentives,” he said.
Smith explained that trips taking patients to hospitals result in significantly higher payments when a paramedic is involved. Currently, the county EMS office has four paramedics who handle 34 percent of the calls, he said.
Boosting the number of paramedic responses to 50 percent would result in about $140,000 more in revenue per year, Smith said.
He acknowledged the change would increase the cost to patients. However, Smith said insurance companies would cover the bill.
He told council members that training to become a paramedic costs $9,000 per person. Half of that amount could come from EMS funding, he said, while the eight people who want to become paramedics are willing to pay the other half.
Smith said he wouldn’t ask for county general fund money for the required education. The process to get full state certification as a paramedic agency has been studied at length and could take four to five years, he added.
“We didn’t hastily put this together,” Smith said.
Despite the possibility of increasing revenue for the EMS office, he said boosting the number of paramedics has a bigger payoff.
“The most important reason to become a paramedic agency is to have those skills that can save lives,” Smith said.
The council listened to the report, but a decision whether to authorize the change will be made during a future meeting.
Council vice chairman Lynn Jackson voiced support for increasing the level of service to community residents. But he said the council will want financial data.
“We’ll be looking at a pretty detailed cost-to-benefit analysis,” Jackson said.
Council member Elizabeth Tubbs said she is “extremely supportive” of the idea.
“I don’t think we can afford not to do it,” she said.