Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vote to save lives

Among the Wood River Valley's most vital public service assets is the Johnny-on-the-spot emergency medical care residents and visitors can expect during a health or accident crisis.

On May 27, voters will be asked to approve a $3 per $100,000 property valuation tax hike to continue funding the superior services of the Blaine County Ambulance District. At least 66.6-pecent approval of the vote is required for passage.

Rising costs require the tax increase to maintain the level of services throughout the county. The seven ambulances operated by the district are aging (the oldest is 16 years old) and need to be gradually replaced. Fuel costs more. So, too, do highly trained paramedics.

Full costs of the district's $1 million-plus operations are not borne by taxes alone. Users of the ambulances are charged a flat $550 plus $9 per mile.

Although the sight of ambulances at traffic accidents is more typical, emergency medical care is spread out through a number of needs in the valley—children with terrifying allergic reactions, heart attacks, recreation injuries, industrial work accidents and other health crises.

Valley residents are fortunate to have the full-service St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center nearby. However, when emergencies occur, the only dependable, nearby, quick help are paramedics, who interchange their work schedules between ambulances and valley fire departments.

To ensure uninterrupted excellence in delivery of those emergency services, a "Yes" vote is needed on May 27, a vote whose costs will amount to only pennies per week—pennies that will save lives.

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