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For the week of Feb. 16 through Feb. 22, 2000

County can afford paramedics

In one of the richest counties in Idaho, why shouldn’t people fighting for their lives be cared for by highly trained paramedics?

That is the question before the Blaine County Commissioners.

Jon Moses, Wood River Medical Center administrator and head of the county Emergency Services Council, asked the commissioners if they objected to enrolling four people in a training program for paramedics. The training would be paid for by $100,000 in grants from the Heinz Foundation and the Moritz Hospital Auxiliary.

The commissioners didn’t object, but they didn’t endorse the idea. They cited concerns about the potential for ongoing costs and the fact that there had been no public hearing. The commissioners control the purse strings of the Blaine County Ambulance District.

While concern about costs is generally a virtue in public officials, when it comes to a proven way to save lives that don’t have to be lost, it is petty.

There are strong arguments for providing paramedics in Blaine County.

EMTs are limited in the kinds of life-saving procedures they can perform. They cannot administer drugs, and they cannot perform invasive procedures like opening an airway.

Hospital consolidation will place many people farther away from emergency services than before. Paramedics bring 75% of the care available in an emergency room to the door of someone in distress.

In a county as wealthy as this one, paramedics are not an extravagance. The commissioners should jump start the service with the generous grants and just say, "Thanks."


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