Fremont County seeks EMS grant to fund new ground ambulance, reduce non-emergency air transports

    Fremont County is one of nine entities in the state that have applied for funding through the Wyoming Department of Health EMS Regionalization Pilot Project Grant program.

    The Wyoming Legislature created the grant program in 2022 using $10 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, WDH director Steffan Johansson said during a Labor, Health and Social Services Committee meeting this spring.

    The money will be used to explore strategies that could help “sustain EMS services” in Wyoming using “regional approaches, or approaches where administrative costs can be shared, or services can be consolidated or managed across a larger region,” Johansson said.


    New ground ambulance

    In Fremont County, the plan is to purchase and staff a new ground ambulance in order to reduce the number of air medical transports from the area, Commissioner Larry Allen said.

    “If it’s a non-emergent transfer, then ground ambulance can use that (new) ambulance to do the transports, versus a more expensive air flight,” Allen explained. “It would be providing a better service to the citizens – a more affordable one. Because not everybody can afford (an air ambulance).”

    An emergency medical flight can cost a patient more than $50,000, according to Fremont County’s grant application, and SageWest Health Care estimates that more than 300 air transports per year could be eliminated if more ground transportation options were available in non-emergent situations, resulting in “a cost reduction of $15 million for the people of Fremont County.”

    “I think it’ll be a great deal for the citizens,” Allen said.


    ‘Stop gap’

    In its grant application, Fremont County described the pilot project proposal as a two-year “stop gap” measure that could be implemented while local government officials continue working “towards a more scalable funding source for EMS.”

    “Sustainability of the entire Fremont County EMS system has been in jeopardy since 2020,” the application states. “Our availability of responder personnel has considerably dropped, and the county has experienced an increase of $1.5 million to the subsidy cost of EMS services during this period. Bonuses and increased cost are needed to attract personnel.”

    A task force made up of county and municipal representatives “has been working on this since 2021,” the application says, and “the group is moving towards an EMS district or tax in 2024 to sustain this funding” while also working with others to “develop partnerships to secure additional funding.”


    “This project is critical to understand the true costs which will be included in any approach the county and its partners take,” the application states. “Once we can track the costs and true transports generated from this project, we can better evaluate the cost of the entire system.”

    In April, Johansson said the seven EMS grant applications his agency recommended for funding – including Fremont County’s – were still going through the federal approval process.


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