Glacier County EMS staff reduction forces different operations

Posted at 4:15 PM, Nov 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-13 18:41:51-05

CUT BANK – The director of the Glacier County EMS Department resigned from her position back in August after learning about budget cuts and the inability to pay off nearly $3 million in debt.

Amie Allison served as the director for eight years.

Commissioners then completed an assessment of the program and realized from that point on changes needed to be made.

Those changes included going from 14 full-time paramedics on staff down to just two full-time and one part-time paramedic.

“Right now we are running our 911 calls just fine. We’re short-staffed, a lot of ambulance companies in Montana are short-staffed, but we’re running our 911 calls 24/7,” said Glacier County EMS Director Charles Farmer.

With the decrease in staffing of full-time paramedics, Glacier County EMS went from operating at an Advanced Life Support Level now to just operating at a Basic Life Support Level.

Advanced Life Support ambulances transport patients who need a higher level of care during transportation. Basic Life Support ambulances provide transport to patients who do not require cardiac monitoring.

Farmer said they are still taking calls and doing transfers, just not as many as they once did.

“Basic life support is just fine, we’re still doing emergency calls. If we have a motor vehicle accident out there, we have staff to go out there and take care of those scenes. There’s not going to be a problem, the citizens can rest assured we’re there for them.,” Farmer also said.

When paramedics are available, Advanced Life Support is still done for patients who need a higher level of care in emergency situations.

Farmer said the county does still have a budget for the program, but they are handling calls case by case, not wanting to cause fatigue to his staff.

-Kasey Herman reporting for MTN News