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South Summit taps Wasatch Fire to provide EMS in 2024

An ambulance at the Wasatch Fire District's Jordanelle Station.
Wasatch Fire District
An ambulance at the Wasatch Fire District's Jordanelle Station.

This January, Summit County’s three fire departments will coordinate their own emergency medical services, but South Summit doesn't have EMTs yet.

The South Summit Fire District is contracting with the Wasatch Fire District for EMS next year.

Previously, the Park City Fire District handled EMS in South Summit and across the county. But in response to new state legislation, Summit County reorganized emergency services, requiring fire districts to bring it in-house.

The volunteer-based South Summit Fire District doesn’t have the budget to do that. South Summit operated on $728,000 in FY2023, compared to North Summit’s $2.2 million.

South Summit’s board of commissioners says a tax increase can help ramp up EMS capacity. In the meantime, Wasatch Fire will provide two advanced EMTs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Wasatch Fire recently hired six new full-time EMTs which it will loan to South Summit. The two districts help each other out, with South Summit sometimes covering remote areas of Wasatch County near state Route 35.

“We're just glad that we can take this opportunity to help them because they have obviously helped us over the years in those areas,” Wasatch Fire Chief Eric Hales said. “So we're just kind of just paying or giving back for what they've done for us.”

Under the new EMS structure, Summit County gives its three fire districts $1 million each to fund a basic level of EMS service.

South Summit will pay Wasatch fire $750,000 of that $1 million, with the rest covering other operational expenses. Board members say they’re putting $80,000 into a savings account every year to save up for a new ambulance every five years.

The goal is to have one ambulance on call at all times, plus two backups.

Board member Julie Black says the district will need to hire firefighters who are cross-trained as EMTs and move to a mix of volunteers and full-timers.

“We need a third ambulance here in case of one of the failure of one of the other ambulances, or if we have to cover a rodeo or a football event,” she said at a public hearing Nov. 27.

Listen to South Summit Fire's first FY2024 Truth in Taxation hearing, Nov. 27, 2023

Summit County will give South Summit two used ambulances for 2024.

“One [of the ambulances], we're going to limp along until 2025. The other one is in decent shape,” Black said.

The ambulances are from 2008 and 2017.

Black says the county will purchase a brand new ambulance for South Summit in 2025. After that, the district plans to replace one of its three ambulances every five years.

The contract with Wasatch Fire provides EMTs for one year right now. With a potential tax increase, South Summit’s board hopes the fire district can operate EMS itself by 2025.

Until then, Park City fire will continue to provide paramedics, which are called in for extreme medical emergencies.

South Summit’s board has scheduled a second and final public hearing Dec. 13, when it could vote to raise taxes.

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