Pagosa Springs EMS earns state award

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By Howard M. Paul
Special to The SUN

Pagosa Springs Emergency Medical Services has been named as Colorado’s Ambulance Service of the Year by the Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado.

The ambulance service was selected for not just its success in 2014, but for the hard work and commitment in developing a strong foundation for EMS and striving to be a leader in rural EMS patient care for several years.

Rural Pagosa Springs EMS has innovative and progressive medical direction and medical protocols, advanced training for its paramedics and has been approved by the state of Colorado as an EMS training center. All of the paramedics are now certified as critical care paramedics and routinely transport critical patients by ambulance to hospitals as distant as Albuquerque, N.M.

Dr. Amber Reiss-Holt, surgeon and emergency physician, said that the ambulance service was a key player in helping earn a Level IV Trauma center designation for the local critical access hospital at Pagosa Springs Medical Center.

“The strength of the ambulance service was mentioned in our review by out-of-state trauma specialists. This is the best EMS group I have ever encountered,” said Reiss-Holt, who previously worked in the prototypical EMS system — Baltimore’s Shock-Trauma Center.

During the same review of the local EMS system, members of the state’s trauma center assessment team said, “Pagosa Springs EMS was the best EMS system they had seen in all their site visits” across Colorado.

The Pagosa Springs EMS staff is very active in public education and region-wide professional quality improvement processes, including mass-casualty disasters, medical direction and professional training. EMS Chief Jason Webb and Medical Director Dr. Michelle Flemmings are part of the state’s EMS and Trauma Systems Improvement Committee and travel across the state to assess and advise other communities’ struggling EMS systems.

The award will be presented Nov. 8 at the Colorado State EMS Conference at Keystone Resort Conference Center.

The Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado is a professional association of paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and EMS first responders, physicians and nurses who treat victims of traumatic injury and medical emergencies; and EMS agencies, administrators, dispatchers, researchers and educators. EMSAC’s nearly 3,000 members work or volunteer for ground and air ambulance services, fire departments, hospitals and clinics, search and rescue teams, ski patrols, military medical or rescue units and medical training institutions.