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Aspen Ambulance District — Like a ‘Mobile Emergency Room’ Providing Immediate CarePublished 10/10/2011

While Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) provides our community with state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, life-saving technology, and highly trained medical professionals, the care you receive before you arrive at the hospital is vital, too. Aspen Ambulance District, a community-wide ambulance service administered and managed by the hospital, brings that same level of excellence in emergency medical care and transport to all Pitkin County residents.

Responding to approximately 1,100 calls a year, Aspen Ambulance District employs 35 full-time and part-time professionals who have Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), EMT-Intermediate (EMT-I), and paramedic (EMT-P) certifications.

“In addition, many full-time personnel are critical care paramedics (CCEMT-P) who have the highest level of EMT training in advanced care for serious medical conditions,” says Gabriel Muething, Aspen Ambulance District Operations Manager. “It’s highly unusual for an ambulance service in a community of our size to have this many critical care paramedics.”

Your mobile ER

Aspen Ambulance District response units are equipped for both basic and advanced life support. “With critical care paramedics and advanced life support equipment, our ambulances are like a mobile emergency room, providing immediate treatment on site that can potentially save a patient’s life or prevent disability,” says Jim Richardson, Aspen Ambulance District Director.

The advanced life support units and critical care paramedics also transport patients from AVH to other facilities through our Inter-Facility Transfer (ITF) program, which is funded by the hospital. “Ground transport with advanced life support ambulances and critical care paramedics is vital because our unpredictable weather often makes an airlift impossible,” says Jim.

Emergency care at community events

For special events in the community, Aspen Ambulance District units and personnel are there in case of an emergency.

“We contract with sponsoring organizations to have ambulances on site at events from local bike races and marathons to international events, such as the Winter X Games in January,” says Gabriel. “Taxpayer resources are not used to cover special events, and we ensure that response units are available for the community, even during events.”

When should you call an ambulance?

If you or a family member suffers illness or injury, you may wonder whether you need an ambulance. According to Jim, there’s no easy answer to that question. “But if you are concerned, it’s best to call 911,” he adds. “Some residents in our service area are as much as an hour from the hospital. When you call an ambulance, we bring the care of an emergency room to you and use the transport time to provide treatment before you get to the hospital.”

Aspen Ambulance District professionals are trained to assess a patient’s condition when they arrive. “Sometimes we determine that a patient doesn’t need an ambulance, and that there’s time to drive to the hospital or wait to see a doctor,“ says Jim. “If you’re unsure, call anyway. If you don’t need us, calling the ambulance and having an assessment  will cost you nothing. And, if you do need us, not calling could cost you your life.”

Paramedics Jim Richardson (left) and Gabe Muething oversee all aspects of the Aspen Ambulance District.
Paramedics Jim Richardson (left) and Gabe Muething oversee all aspects of the Aspen Ambulance District.

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Aspen Ambulance District — Like a ‘Mobile Emergency Room’ Providing Immediate Care