Grand County EMS seeks grants to offset building costs for new stations
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the current status of the grant applied through Sen. Bennet’s office.
Whether you are dehydrated at the trailhead or having a cardiac emergency at home, Grand County Emergency Medical Services is the responding agency providing care for anyone needing medical assistance under any situation. The agency responds to all 911 calls across the county from its four stations in Fraser, Granby, Kremmling and Grand Lake.
As the county has grown over the years, Grand County EMS has outgrown its headquarters in Granby.
The agency is responding to more emergency calls than ever before with call volume increasing 72% from 2012-22. With only 41 full-time employees, Grand County EMS responded to 2,836 calls in 2022, which averages out to approximately 236 calls a month or almost eight calls a day. As of May 3 it has responded to 946 incidents in 2023, according to the agency.
In addition to emergencies, Grand County EMS also provides free standby coverage to kids at local rodeos in addition to other school and local civic events such as varsity football, health fairs and trunk-or-treats to name a few.
While EMS is providing exceptional medical services and educational programs to the community, it’s headquarters is not so exceptional. That is why EMS has applied for several federal and state grants to help offset the costs of building a new headquarters in Granby, and potentially a new station in Fraser.
Voters approved a mill levy in 2021 for 1.75 mills for EMS, which raised budget revenues for the agency by more than $1.5 million. Since then inflation has significantly increased building costs.
“The problem has been that the cost of building has doubled. Inflation hit and doubled the costs since we got the mill levy,” said Grand County EMS Chief Robert Good in an interview with Sky-Hi News. “Station 1 (Granby) is a priority because it is more community driven.”
Good says EMS is trying to combat inflation by applying for grants that will stretch their budget further for the costs associated with building new stations. He is hopeful that they can secure $4-$5 million through grants and other funding sources to help maximize the $10.7 million allocated from its own budget to acquire land or buildings for the stations.
Grand County EMS is hoping to secure two acres for the Granby station because that is where the agency holds CPR classes, car seat checks and other community programs for residents, according to Good.
“The other building (at the Granby station), which is detached, used to be a recycling facility for the county, we finally took that over and we built our education facility inside that,” Good says.
He added that the agency has trained 958 people in first aid and 1,356 in CPR and defibrillator use since 2017.
The EMS headquarters in Granby also acts as a substation for the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
It is not just extra space to hold classes that is driving EMS to secure funding through grants. The Granby station is a relic building from the World War II era that is outdated, and doesn’t provide enough space for the agency’s needs. The crew lives in a small L-shaped addition to the old building while they are on duty.
“Right now we’ve outgrown the building,” he said. “The crews are doing a very good job of getting by with it, we do what we can to keep it safe for the crews.”
While getting a new headquarters has been a goal of Grand County EMS for the last decade, the project has hardly remained a local issue as it has garnered attention from state lawmakers and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse.
Neguse was in Kremmling on April 6 and took time to speak with Good about the $3 million grant that Grand County EMS recently applied for through his office. EMS requested funding through the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development’s Economic Development Initiative.
Grand County EMS Deputy Chief Austin Wingate says that Neguse’s office received more than 80 funding requests and only 15 projects were selected, including theirs. The request has been submitted to the House Appropriations Committee and they will decide whether or not to allocate the final funds sometime between September through December of this year.
“Congressman Neguse and his team expressed their appreciation for the importance of EMS in Grand County and elsewhere in his district being available to respond to the needs of our communities 24/7/365,” stated Wingate.
In addition, EMS applied for a $1 million grant through the Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Grant Fund, which is administered by Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). The grant matches funds that EMS will provide for the project.
“We will present our application and project to DOLA in June, and should find out whether we’re approved in July,” stated Wingate in an email to Sky-Hi News.
Wingate said that the agency also applied for a $3 million grant from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.
“It’s from the same fund as the Neguse request and is essentially identical,” stated Wingate. “Bennet did select our grant request and it has been submitted to the Appropriations Committee.”
Wingate uses a variety of sources to identify grants available for Grand County EMS and the agency applies for grants yearly to supplement its budget.
“Every dollar we can secure in grant funding for operational needs allows us to save money to help with the high costs of construction,” he said.
Whether EMS will repurpose a building or buy land and construct a new building is still up in the air since the grants have not been approved yet. The agency is looking at the most economical options, but since the final budget is still unknown it is hard to say which route they will go and when the stations will be complete.
Grand County EMS is thankful that the community supported them through the approval of the mill levy increase in November 2021, and it is working hard to balance the needs of the department and the community while keeping costs as low as possible, according to Wingate.
“The community and our millions of visitors each year expect highly trained, competent and professional EMTs (emergency medical technicians) and paramedics to respond to emergencies, and it’s very important to us that we design functional and purpose built stations to ensure that we can meet those expectations,” said Wingate.
The Grand County Board of County Commissioners supports the agency’s pursuit of grants for new stations.
“Providing emergency medical care in a county the size of Grand is no easy feat. It requires facilities and equipment that allow our EMS teams to respond as quickly as possible when they’re needed,” the commissioners said in the statement. “As construction costs and inflation continue to rise, it’s increasingly important to leverage the county’s funds, and also to seek every possible funding source in order to maximize the resources we’re able to put toward new facilities.”
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