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12:13 AM Sat, Feb. 16th

Golden Valley ambulance plan proceeds

The Golden Valley Fire District will meet at 6 p.m. tonight to discuss progress in the pursuit of independent ambulance service.

The issue was previously scheduled to be discussed at last week's board meeting, but was pushed back because of the absence of two of the fire district's five board members.

The fire district began pursuing the required Certificate of Necessity (CON) for ambulance service two years ago under the direction of then-chief Paul Hewitt. Tom O'Donohue continued the process after being promoted to fire chief after Hewitt's departure to Utah. O'Donohue said that the application packet is almost ready to be submitted to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

"We believe this will be the best, finest, most comprehensive CON application to ever cross the desks of ADHS," O'Donohue said.

The certificate is necessary to obtain the exclusive-rights to provide ambulance service and is currently held by River Medical Ambulance Service, which has previously criticized a transfer.

River Medical officials have been frequent visitors to district board meetings since the district announced its intent and has previously said that there is not a problem with the service they provide.

River Medical has 23 ambulances serving Mohave County, three of which are stationed in Golden Valley, although they are not dedicated to the area.

That means one or all of those ambulances can be out of fire district when needed in the valley, O'Donohue said.  

The fire district would be responsible for a 220-square-mile coverage area versus the 21,000-square-mile coverage area currently within River Medical's boundaries, he added.

Firefighters at each of the Golden Valley stations are also cross-trained as paramedics.

"When it comes to better service and more reliability, we truly believe we will be the ones who provide it," O'Donohue said.

River Medical charges a base fee of about $1,200 for transport. O'Donohue said he expects to present a fee schedule at the meeting covering fees for everything from those with insurance to those without and that those charges are anticipated to be cheaper than what River Medical charges.

He foresees no needed increase to the district's tax levy in adding the service because the fire district's business model is designed to make the ambulance service self-sustaining, he said.