24/7 Transport Ambulance – Unacceptable Risk!

August 8, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

RE: 24/7 County Transport Ambulance Service – Unacceptable Risk!

We hope you have been following quest to secure quality transport ambulance service in Blowing Rock and throughout the County.

Blowing Rock Civic Association hosted a community meeting to educate our homeowners on July 22nd. You can watch the full one hour video to learn the facts and hear questions from the audience. A link to the video is
https://youtu.be/abKggHcSJv0

You also can fast forward through the video to these key sections –
• Welcome by Tim Gupton
• Introduction by Mayor Sellers at 6:50 minutes
• Presentation by Town Manager Shane Fox at 11:00 minutes
• Comments by Chuck Mantooth, CEO of Appalachian Regional Hospital at 37:30 minutes
• Q&A at 41:40 minutes

You will learn that we have paramedic first responder services by Blowing Rock Fire& Rescue and quality emergency services by Appalachian Regional Hospital, but a WEAK LINK in the middle from the County Transport Ambulance Service that presents an unacceptable health risk, double taxation and inequity throughout the County.

We and all areas outside of Boone have inferior service that results in at least twice the response time compared to Boone. Boone’s average response time is 6 minutes and Blowing Rock is 12 minutes. Other areas in the County are worse. Why isn’t Boone paying a subsidy as being suggested to Blowing Rock and Beech Mountain?
This situation is due to the budget decisions and priorities set by the County Commissioners with no strategic plan to expand transport ambulance services equitably throughout the county. Equitable county wide ambulance services should be the number one issue for the election of County Commissioners in 2022 if not resolved before the election.

The County also measures success by only one factor based on the average response time throughout the County. The best practice is to set a success two factors that drive quality – Reach 90% within 9 minutes, not one factor that excuses the longer response times throughout the County.

After we raised the issue again last summer, the Town and County are in negotiations to figure out how to provide 24/7 ambulance and team stationed in Blowing Rock to serve the Blowing Rock Fire District (50 square miles). The Ball is in their Court!

The irony is that Blowing Rock already pays for the service in the $5M in property taxes that we send to Watauga County. Some argue that we should not compromise to pay a subsidy to the County under the “Double Taxation” principle. Others argue that the cost of subsidy is a minor cost to pay to remove the risk to our healthcare.

Let’s say you have a heart attack or stroke! Here is what happens:
1. The Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue paramedics arrive within 4 to 6 minutes to stabilize the patient
2. The Watauga Medic transport ambulance arrives on average in 12 minutes ( 6 minutes in Boone) and often longer, and
3. The Appalachian Regional Hospital is in communication from the beginning and ready to care for the patient with response times that are better than national average.

The solution is to station a dedicated 24/7 transport ambulance in Blowing Rock that is not pulled away for convalescence service.

I am sure you share our frustration that our elected leaders cannot agree on a solution to this 40 year problem. Our health should not be a political issue.

You need to decide and weigh in as the Town negotiates with the County. Please let your Town Council members know your view. A link to email contacts for the Town Council is https://www.brcivic.org/council-members/ .

We will be sending a separate post to survey your opinion to share with the community and Town Council.

Regards,

Tim Gupton

Posted in News.