The shortage of ambulances in north Davis County is putting a strain on the units available in the south, says the South Davis Fire District chief.

Chief Brent Argyle said his agency is being called upon more frequently to answer calls in the central and north part of the county.The fire district, which also operates an ambulance service, covers the south end of Davis County, from Centerville to the Salt Lake County line, except for Bountiful.

Argyle said that between the units operated by the Bountiful Fire Department and his agency there are seven ambulances for about 85,000 people in south Davis. There are only three ambulances, which may increase to four, for more than 100,000 people in the north end of the county.

One of his agency's new ambulances was totaled in a head-on collision last week on U.S. 89, answering a call in Kaysville, the chief said. No one was injured in the accident, but the ambulance, valued at about $70,000, was destroyed.

"We don't want to be put in the position of not answering calls, but there's a definite need for a higher level of ambulance service in the north end of the county," the chief said.He was addressing a meeting of the Davis County Emergency Medical Services Council, which was discussing priority rankings for applications for state emergency medical services funds.

Argyle's agency submitted a funding request for $20,000 in state money toward purchase of a new $68,000 ambulance to replace one of his agency's older models.

But he also urged the council to add another ambulance to the fleet of three operated in the north end by the sheriff's department.

Argyle said his agency answers 100 to 150 ambulance calls a year in north Davis.

"This is costing our own communities in the south end tax dollars to provide services to the north end," the chief said.

Ambulance service in the county's north end is provided by the sheriff, with its ambulances and paramedics stationed at Humana Hospital Davis North.

The county, along with the Emergency Medical Services Council, about three years ago studied turning the ambulance service over to private providers, inviting ambulance firms to submit proposals.

After studying them, a committee determined it would be most cost effective to continue providing the service through the sheriff's department.

Sheriff Glen Clary told the council that the department's third ambulance, which was out of service temporarily, is not back in service, and his department is working on a funding proposal to put a fourth unit in operation.

Dr. Dennis Wyman, the Emergency Medical Services Council medical director, said one of the council's major goals next year is to add another ambulance in the north end.

The seven in the south average about one unit per 12,000 people, which is in line with the national average of one per 10,000 to 15,000, Wyman said. The ratio in the north end, with the fourth unit coming into service, would be one per 25,000, which Wyman said needs improvement.

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(Chart)

Disparity in service

Population Ambulances

South Davis County 85,000 7

North Davis County 100,000 3