Print Version

Home   News   Sports   Social   Obituaries   Events   Letters
Looking Back     Health Jewels    Stitch in Time

End of Boundary Volunteer Ambulance?

August 15, 2013
By Idaho state law, each of the 44 counties in the state are required to provide ambulance service. For 47 years, the county didn't have to think of it Boundary Volunteer Ambulance did the job for a pittance. It was service the volunteers have long been proud of, but BVA fears their dedication, and service, may be at an end.

In 2011, at BVA's behest, an ambulance taxing district was formed in Boundary County to bring to the county needed services it could not then provide as a separate and all volunteer organization. They knew they needed to do better; laws were changing. Even though they were volunteers, local EMTs faced the risk of lawsuit every time they they answered a call.

BVA asked, and was assured, that their long years of service would be remembered in the formation of this district.

Less than a year later, they fear the end has come, and that it's not the association, but the community that will suffer.

It appears to revolve around a single requirement and a contention over how best to provide: Advanced Life Support.

BVA is an Intermediate Life Support unit; they can  respond to all manner of medical situations in Boundary County, and carry them to Boundary Community Hospital, but they can't yet transport the most gravely ill to hospitals south.

According to BVA Chief Ken Baker, that's a situation soon remidied.

On October 1, the contract with the county necessary to keep BVA alive is set to expire, and county commissioners, he fears, are tending precariously toward letting Boundary Volunteer Ambulance die.

An offer of a 2014 contract for $220,000, less than the tax money authorized, which would give BVA the capabilities needed to provide advanced life support and transport, he said, has not been approved; it appears, he said, that county commissioners seem to be favoring a full Bonner County contract, under which BVA turns ownership of its assets over to the county, letting Newport Ambulance take over operations here, at a considerably cost, under a contract with Bonner County, which by all accounts has a long and storied record of failure as regards EMS.

It might work. But local EMTs might no longer sit in a local ambulance at Badger football games, local rodeos, mudbogs or other events without charge.

And even though taxpayer funded, payable to Bonner County, there's no doubt that those unfortunate and needing an ambulance in Boundary County won't get a bill.
 Questions or comments about this article? Click here to e-mail!