GUERNSEY – A public meeting at 6 p.m. at Gordon Davis Park Sept. 22 will discuss the satisfaction that residents have with the Banner Health ambulance service and the options to go back to a volunteer ambulance service.
“We have a current contract with Banner Health to service the Guernsey area with ambulance facilities,” Kate Farmer, Guernsey town clerk/treasurer said. “That contract is up in January. We are just kind of reaching out to the community to see how they feel about the quality of service they are getting from Banner and if they would like to see us continue to work with Banner or if they would like us to go back to a volunteer ambulance service.”
The contract with Banner has been in effect since 2006 and according to Farmer, it wasn’t necessarily brought to the attention of the community as much as it should have been.
“I’m wanting to make sure we involve the community fully and what’s going on so we know how they’re feeling,” Farmer said. “If they feel they are getting the quality service that they deserve or if they would like to go back to volunteers because they had better service. So that’s kind of where we’re at.”
Banner Health uses the Guernsey ambulance and they are stationed out of the Guernsey Fire Department which has sleeping quarters. There is ample space for two ambulances to be parked and plugged in at that fire department bay.”
“When we took on this contract with Banner, we said that we would retrofit our fire department to provide sleeping quarters for four individuals,” Farmer said. “There are two beds per room and each room has a bathroom across the hallway. We have two full-size bathrooms.”
At the time of the construction, it took the town of Guernsey a year to bring that project to fruition so that Banner could start using the facilities.
“Since that time, we’ve also upgraded and made a rec room on the other side of the weight room which was in there already,” Farmer said. “Now we have a rec room with a pool table couches, TV for them to use as we try to make them as comfortable as possible.”
The ambulance service handles not only Guernsey, but also surrounding areas.
“To my understanding, like, if there’s a call in Hartville, they are going to respond from Guernsey because it’s the closest ambulance, and we also did that when it was a volunteer ambulance service,” Farmer said. “We covered the area as much as we could. If there is an ambulance closer, then who could respond fastest would go to the call and call for backup if needed.”
Part of the contract with Banner Health that has not always set well with people of the community is a requirement for the ambulance to be stationed outside of Guernsey at the Dwyer Junction rest stop area at the interstate.
“This is called the tri-level,” she said. “If Wheatland’s ambulance has a call to transfer to Casper or Cheyenne, then they have to take their ambulance crew from Wheatland out of town, then the Guernsey ambulance crew will go stage at Dwyer so that they are more centrally located within the county. So then they will cover the entire county with that one ambulance.”
Normally the town of Guernsey has two ambulance crews through Banner Health. Glendo is one of the nearby areas that has a volunteer ambulance service. They have chosen not to sign a contract with Banner Health.
Banner Health pays the town of Guernsey $1 a year for the use of the Guernsey ambulance and the fire hall sleeping quarters.
“They make all the money off of every ambulance call, whether it’s Medicare insurance or self-pay,” Farmer said.
According to Farmer, the No. 1 goal is to make sure the community is getting the service that they deserve and if not, they would like to make it better for them.
The town meeting is going to be held in the city park so that as many people can attend as possible without having to wrestle against Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines or state COVID restrictions. With the open area, the town can have up to 250 people there.
“We’re trying to encourage as many people to attend so we can get as much input as possible,” Farmer said.