USJHSD Receives Matching Grant for New Ambulance

Recently the Upper San Juan Health Service District received a matching grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment toward a new ambulance and EMS equipment.

With an uptick in demand for emergency medical services the Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) EMS needs the additional ambulance to ensure coverage can continue to consistently be met.

Currently, the district has a total of four ambulances. The number of EMS calls has grown over 100% in a recent 5-year span, and PSMC EMS is now utilizing all four ambulances more than ever. For a district that covers an area of 1,800 square miles that encompasses remote and rough terrain, the need to have reliable and redundant system becomes evident.

“Those are two huge components in delivering fast, efficient care to our community,” states EMS Chief Jason Webb, “When just one ambulance is being used to transport a patient to Denver or if it is in the shop getting repairs done, it takes away a quarter of our fleet.”

The lack of the additional ambulance could mean the difference between running three EMS crews instead of all four. With such a large area to cover it is not uncommon for an EMS crew to be out on a call for couple hours or entirely out of commission while transporting a patient to a distant hospital for services not provided at PSMC.

The new ambulance, arriving in 2018, will not be replacing an old one but will be an addition to the fleet. When an ambulance is in the shop for unanticipated repairs or on a long transportation of a patient to another hospital, PSMC EMS will still be able to run with all four of their crews when needed.

This year there has already been 15 unexpected repairs to ambulances and 34 long distance transportations that have left the fleet hindered at times.

The matching grant will provide about half of the funds needed towards the $230,000 ambulance. The PSMC Foundation is working on securing donations for the other half.

The district also received a matching grant for a new Lifepak defibrillator and monitor, and intubation GlideScope, and an intravenous fluid warmer, for the PSMC Emergency Department.

“We have enjoyed a strong relationship with CDPHE, and their EMS and trauma grant programs,” said PSMC Foundation Director Jodi Scarpa. “This year it was an ambulance and equipment, and last year they helped us obtain new radios and a power loading stretcher. The Pagosa Springs Medical Center and PSMC Foundation appreciate the financial support they have provided to improve emergency services for our community.”

For more information on how you can contribute to the PSMC Foundation, visit


Jesse Hensle

Jesse Hensle is Marketing and Communications Manager for the Pagosa Springs Medical Center.