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SCASD to address ambulance needs, board vacancies

Local Editor | March 10, 2023 1:00 AM

WALLACE — The Shoshone County Ambulance Service District (SCASD) has been working diligently to make sure that the residents of Shoshone County receive nothing short of quality service in the event of an emergency response.

One of the major ways that SCASD has worked toward this goal is by purchasing new ambulances for the first responders to utilize.

Recently, the district paid for and received a 2022 Ford 550 ambulance that was purchased at a discounted rate of $262,000 — due to it being a demo model that had made the rounds at things like trade shows and other exhibitions.

“We got a good deal on it and it came fully outfitted,” SCASD advisory board chairman Bruce Van Broeke told the News-Press. “But since we got it in, we’ve already done the 5,000-mile maintenance on it. That’s how much use we’re putting on these vehicles.”

That new ambulance was part of the district’s 2022 budget, but with several of the other ambulances in the county’s fleet aging out of their usefulness, it isn’t the only one they’re planning on purchasing.

Van Broeke told the News-Press that currently, the county is two ambulances away from having an up-to-date fleet.

The district was recently approved through the county’s $2.5 million allocation of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund program (CSLFRF) authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for $150,000 toward an additional ambulance.

According to Van Broeke, at full price, each ambulance comes with a price tag of about $300K — which means there is still a difference to be made up. Under the previous Board of County Commissioners and according to Van Broeke, an agreement was struck between the BOCC and SCASD to pull the remaining $150,000 for the second ambulance from the East Shoshone Hospital District Fund.

Van Broeke understands that this might ruffle the feathers of a select group of residents who want to see that money spent in other ways or not at all — but by Van Broeke’s logic, it would make sense to see that money spent on something useful within the medical field and an ambulance certainly fits that bill.

“I paid money into that district at one time too,” Van Broeke said. “The current commissioners are going to investigate that and tell me where we’re at on it. But that money plus the $150,000 from ARPA gives us enough for our second ambulance and I think that is a great thing for that money to go to.”

The third ambulance will be primarily purchased with additional federal grant dollars that SCASD has been promised specifically for an ambulance — however, with this third ambulance, there will be some cost to the taxpayers, but nowhere near what the cost would be without the grant money.

“Right now these things are 18 months out at a minimum,” Van Broeke said. “We’ve secured $192,000 in Federal grant money that we’ll use for our third ambulance and we’ll budget for the remainder of the costs in our annual budget. This makes sure that our residents have quality ambulances when they need them and also is helping them as taxpayers.”

Over the past few years, the ambulances in Shoshone County have been put through the wringer — including one that blew a motor during a patient transport to Pocatello.

Getting that ambulance back on the road cost the county $20,000 — and that was with the county getting a deal from the mechanic who did the work.

“We’re sitting with three diesel ambulances with better than 150,000 miles on them,” Van Broeke said. “We’ve implemented a maintenance program so that we can keep these vehicles on the road for as long as possible — which has saved us probably, conservatively, $20,000 in the last four months.”

Van Broeke estimates that emergency crews respond to an average of 12 calls per day that require an ambulance — but that number being an average means that there are some days and times where the call volume is exceptionally higher and having reliable vehicles could be the difference between someone’s life or death.

SCASD is also looking for someone to fill a recent vacancy on the board — particularly someone with a financial background.

Last week SCASD treasurer Jerry Brantz resigned from his position as board treasurer, which has left a substantial hole in the financial expertise of the board.

“We have a lot of people on the board who have knowledge of the EMS and medical world. We’re very well-seasoned and have a lot of people who have done entity-work,” Van Broeke said. “But we’re looking for someone who understands budgets and line items, they don’t have to have a medical background, just the financial knowledge and a willingness to speak up and speak their mind.”

Shoshone County is already advertising for the open volunteer position on their website.

“We need someone who is passionate about providing excellent ambulance service to Shoshone County residents and who is knowledgeable about financial records, budgets, and maintaining spreadsheets and various reports.”

For more information, contact the Shoshone Board of County Commissioners office at 208-752-3331 or attend the next meeting of the Shoshone County Ambulance Service District, next Thursday, March 16, at 6 p.m. at the Shoshone County Fire District No. 1 office in Osburn.