PCFD’s 2023 budgets reflect deficits for EMS, challenging goals for response times, training

PARK CITY, Utah — Park City Fire District (PCFD) released its tentative 2023 budget showing positive steps forward in equipment, training, and a newly renovated firehouse. A separate budget released accounts for the district’s operation of County EMS in North Summit, Park City, and South Summit. Although the budget is doing well within Park City, the EMS budget for North and South Summit continues to function in a deficit while Summit County awaits the findings of the SafeTech Solutions study that might provide clarity on the correct steps forward.

The tentative budget for Park City’s Fire and EMS budget shows a total revenue of $19.9 million, making it a $1.5 million increase from 2022. Many costly purchases, such as two new fire engines, one ordered in 2020 and another in 2021, were partially paid for under previous years’ budgets leaving only half the cost of each fire engine to be covered under the 2023 budget.

The renovation of Station 34 at Silver Lake in Deer Valley is a carryover from the 2022 budget. Future purchases, such as 48 self-contained breathing apparatuses that carry a combined cost of $490,000, will likely be partially covered by a grant.

EMS is separated into a Park City budget and a combined North and South Summit budget. For Park City, the annual budget is $2.2 million. The four ambulances in use for the city bring a total cost of $3.68 million, making their deficit $1.48 million.

North and South Summit each operate with a crewed ambulance and two backups should a situation require them. Operations, including staffing, support costs, and expenses, are projected to cost $1.87 million for North and South Summit.

Among the challenges for EMS in the county is that projected calls for service are expected to be 10% higher for 2022. In 2021 alone, there were 5,778 calls, with 2,054 requiring EMS transport. Operating under a deficit brings difficulty when considering the goals put forth, such as a response time under two minutes, enhanced training, and others. A potential solution raised could be the revenue from collections for transport. PCFD Chief Bob Zanetti is hoping to transition from getting county money for the EMS services and instead let them use that money collected from transport costs to put towards their district. A key goal for the district is the future training of EMTs and Paramedics in critical care that will help enable the transport of patients that might otherwise require life flight in certain situations.

“I’ve requested [to] the council that they don’t pay us… we could take over the collections [from people transported instead]. We’ve been operating in a deficit in the districts that pay for subsidizing that account. I’ve been working on it for the last year to get it corrected. We’re hopefully trending in the right direction, but we’re not there yet,” Zanetti said.

Time will tell which direction the future of EMS in the county will lead. Still, among Summit County, Park City Fire District, and the study being done by SafeTech Solutions, the conversation does appear to be moving forward toward a conclusion.

“There are limiting factors while only looking at transport; it’s only a piece of the overall system. But the bigger picture is everything. It’s the paramedics; the fire trucks were all integrated. I think it will help as a step in the right direction,” said Chief Zanetti.

Final town hall on the future of EMS in Summit County tonight, local input needed

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