In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS practitioners and the important work they do in our nation’s communities. Grand County Emergency Medical Services has been at the ready to respond to our citizens’ emergencies since 1973, when Dennis Robson, Jim Phillips, Rick Robson, Dan Sykes, Charlie Squires, Preston Niesen, Dave Laughlin, and Royal Holter purchased an old Army surplus Pontiac ambulance nicknamed “Bertha” for $600, and formed the Grand County Ambulance Association. The first full year in operation the Grand County Ambulance Association responded to 98 calls. 

Today, Grand County Emergency Medical Services responds to around 140 calls a month with full and part time EMTs and Paramedics, who staff ambulances and quick response vehicles every hour of every day. In the past 10 years the Department has seen a doubling in call volume and a significant increase in the public’s expectation of the services we provide.

Paramedics, after becoming EMTs and gaining some experience, move onto college accredited Paramedic programs that last anywhere from 12 to 18 months and involve more than 1600 hours of education, training, and internships. Our Paramedics have over 30 medications in their formulary and perform extremely technical and high consequence procedures. The department’s advanced and basic EMTs also provide many of the same medications and skills that Paramedics provide, and they too receive many hours of training, skill development, and education, over and above the standard training for EMTs. 

Being an EMS professional is not easy. No one calls 911 because they are having a great day. Paramedics and EMTs are exposed to tragedy daily, they see the very worst of situations, and somehow when their shift is over, they must manage their emotions and come home to their families with a smile on their face.  

EMS week is about honoring the professionals who will answer the call, who will respond, and who will do everything to make that tragic situation a little better. I frequently remind our staff there is no 912, you are it, you are who the public is counting on! I’ve been so grateful for the honor of serving and working next to these public safety and medical professionals. I have witnessed firsthand over and over again their dedication, compassion, competence, and sacrifice. 

This week if you see the flashing lights of an ambulance in your rearview mirror, or you hear the familiar wail of a siren at midnight while you are trying to sleep, remember that the skilled women and men of Grand County EMS are always prepared, trained, and ready to respond to your worst day! 

Andy Smith 

Executive Director 

Grand County EMS SSD