In 2014, Western Sierra Medical Clinic (WSMC) terminated emergency medical services and advanced life-support backup for the Downieville ambulance. The clinic also reduced office and after-hours coverage.
At that time, WSMC offered $50,000 to fund a paramedic on the condition that said paramedic would function as a medical provider in the clinic. The problem was that under California law, a paramedic can only operate from an ambulance, and WSMC does not have an ambulance.
Western Sierra Medical Clinic also terminated the Enloe Base Hospital Agreement. This agreement had designated WSMC in Downieville as an alternate base station for Enloe Medical Center in Chico, and thereby had allowed the Downieville Ambulance to take patients to the clinic.
The clinic then announced reduced hours and that it would no longer provide emergency care. Since WSMC had been the vital link with the ambulance for advanced life-support services a huge vacuum in emergency care was created.
Sierra Frontier Medical Resources (SFMR), a local non-profit organization formed in 2014 to rebuild the infrastructure of emergency medical services for western Sierra County. This group has sponsored the following:
· Training 17 Homemaker Health Aides
· Training 13 Emergency Medical Responders
· Training 14 Emergency Medical Technicians
· Initiating/ funding the current Paramedic Pilot Project with community support
· Training 12 Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians
· Encouraging community members to obtain medical helicopter insurance
In 2017, SFMR developed the Paramedic Pilot Project (PPP) and raised $56,000 in donations to fund it. The first paramedic was hired in June; Rachel Defibaugh is highly skilled and currently provides advanced life support services from the Downieville Fire District Ambulance which serves both Downieville and Sierra City. She works with our volunteer EMTs and rescue personnel. The program is very successful, but it has only sufficient funding to run through December, 2017. A long-term solution is needed to sustain the service.
Sierra Frontier Medical Resources has applied for two grants through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and both were approved but not funded. Currently there are no state grants available to support rural paramedic development.
The remaining option is to ask the community to support a tax for paramedic and advanced emergency medical services. We need a skilled professional on-duty 24/7 to work alongside our trained volunteers in acute medical and trauma situations. The proposed tax would fund these vital services.
Why do we need a Paramedic?
Many essential Advanced Life Support procedures and skills are only in the scope of a Paramedic. These include:
· Advanced Cardiac Life Support
· Pain Management
· Medication for Seizure Intervention
· Advanced Respiratory Care Procedures
· Pediatric Advanced Life Support
· Advanced Treatment for Trauma & Shock
What are we planning?
We need ongoing public support for this vital program to provide emergency care to residents as well as visitors. We have exhausted community donations and grant options.
Proponents in the Downieville Fire Protection District and the Sierra City Fire District, respectively, plan to submit a ballot measure to the voters of each of their districts in June, 2018, which would establish a parcel tax in order to sustain paramedic and emergency medical services.
The special annual property tax would be as follows: Single Family Residences: $100; Mixed Residential, Commercial and Industrial: $150; Vacant/Agricultural/Open Space: $60; TPZ (without residence): $25; Government, Public Utility, Community Service, Churches, Fraternal Organizations are exempt. In the case of multiple dwelling units, the tax might possibly be passed on to renters.
Unless we obtain public support for the paramedic and advanced emergency medical services, we face real and significant risk for increased mortality.