Aspen Ambulance calls pick up
December 29, 2011
ASPEN – It has been business like business used to be for Aspen Ambulance this week, which saw its 2012 budget cut after calls from local ski areas dropped off last winter.
The ambulance service ramped up for what it anticipated would be a busy holiday season Dec. 17 – staffing three ambulances instead of two during the day, while the ski areas are in operation – but calls didn’t pick up noticeably, according to director Jim Richardson. That changed on Monday, when the service began handling six to eight calls daily from the three ski areas it serves – Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk and Highlands (Snowmass Village has its own ambulance service) – in addition to general 911 calls.
Pitkin County trimmed the ambulance service’s budget after ski-related calls dropped noticeably last winter. Ambulance officials couldn’t say for sure why the volume of calls was down, but they guessed that stellar snow conditions last season might have been a factor.
No one is calling snow conditions stellar so far this winter, but Richardson said he suspects the volume of skiers on the slopes led to the recent jump in calls for transport to Aspen Valley Hospital.
“You can’t make much out of two days,” he said Wednesday.
The ambulance service planned to staff three ambulances during the busy holiday period but drop back to two ambulances starting Jan. 2. If this winter’s volume regularly requires a third ambulance, an amendment to increase the Aspen Ambulance budget for 2012 will have to go to county commissioners, Richardson said.
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Last winter, the service had three ambulances at the ready throughout the ski season; the decision was made to go with two ambulances this winter except during a few peak periods.