I read with interest the article in last week's DCI regarding voter support being needed for the mill levy increase for the Delta County Ambulance District. Although I rarely feel the need to write a letter to the editor, this is one of those times when I consider myself fairly well qualified to comment on this subject. This is because my wife Lynnette was on the ambulance board of directors in the early 2000s and, more importantly, we once found ourselves in the position of desperately needing to call for the ambulance services.
First, a comment from when Lynnette was on the board: she would come home from a district meeting and tell me about the funding shortfalls the district was experiencing due to uninsured patients and the woefully insufficient reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare. Her comment at the time was, "It simply can't go on like this, and they are going to run out of money eventually." Her most recent comment regarding the ambulance district budget was "I don't know how they managed to get by all these years on only a 2.25 mill levy." Well friends, eventually is finally here and the latest projections are that the district will indeed run out of reserves this coming year.
Now for our personal example: Lynnette got bucked off a horse out near the western end of the Grand Mesa. She suffered a major concussion and we were a long way from a road. I about killed a good horse making a dash back to the trailhead, asked a couple of strangers to drive back toward town until they could get into cell phone coverage and had them request the ambulance meet us at Flowing Park Trailhead. By the time I got Lynnette out to the trailhead, the ambulance was waiting for us and I can't begin to express my profound relief when those EMTs calmly and professionally took charge of the situation. They got her to the ER in Delta, and the injury was serious enough that they sent her via Flight for Life to St. Mary's in Grand Junction.
I would like to emphasize here that I don't like having my taxes go up any more than the next guy. However, I know that this mill levy increase goes directly to solve a budget shortfall for a specific local concern, as opposed to the majority of my taxes disappearing into the ether, often to be used in foreign countries or for frivolous pork barrel projects.
So ... here we are. This is the point where responsible citizens need to think about how we address this problem. Are we going to sit around and complain about the "government" not doing something, or are we going to step up and make a decision for the long term that affects our community's ability to provide reliable ambulance service for ourselves?
I am going to gladly vote for Ballot Issue 5A and I hope the rest of the folks living in this ambulance district will do the same, because when you need an ambulance, you REALLY need an ambulance.