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Guardian and county reach deal on dispatch for ambulances

Mar 30, 2016 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Guardian Flight -- the private firm which won the rights last week to take control the county's emergency management services -- has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Fremont County Sheriff's Department to pay the full price to have ambulances dispatched by the county.

Guardian's initial reluctance to pay full price had been a late complication as the company prepares to begin a five-year lease of the county's ground ambulance operations in July.

During initial contract negotiations, Guardian had agreed to pay the county $207,000 a year for dispatch services. However, dispatch services are operated by the sheriff's office -- separate county government department -- and officials realized they could not unilaterally incorporate sheriff's office services in the contract.

Sheriff Skip Hornecker said he is legally obligated to charge all end-users of the dispatch center proportionately to their usage.

His office takes a three-year average of the total cost for dispatch, and charges each contractor a percentage.

After negotiations were turned over to Hornecker's office, Guardian had protested paying fees that high. Honecker said Guardian had tried exploring other options, including self-dispatch, but eventually conceded that it would be unworkable.

Guardian will now pay the same amount that the county would have been had EMS not been privatized -- last year, the charge was $280,000.

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