The Crestone Eagle • June, 2021

Baca Grande POA news: Ambulance service continues to shrink 

by John Rowe

The regularly scheduled monthly Baca Grande Property Owner’s Association (POA) Board meeting was held on Thursday, May 20, at 10am. The meeting was held virtually via Zoom and had 18 attendees. All five board members were present and they are as follows: Steve Dossenback, President; Mark Repp, Vice President; Joanna Theriault, Secretary; Sugandha Brooks, Treasurer; and Ed Sbarbaro, Member at Large. Executive Director Kevin Flewell facilitated the meeting which started on time and ran for two hours, adjourning at noon.

Ambulance Service

The POA Ambulance Service is down to three paramedics, two of whom are ALS (advanced life support) certified. This is someone who could administer potentially life-saving drugs on the way to the hospital. One of the ALS folks is currently out of town, so for now the Baca has one advanced paramedic (ALS certified), and he’s on duty five days a week. This means there is no ALS coverage two days a week and this means that severely sick or injured people could be at risk of losing their lives on the way to the hospital for lack of quality medical care. If anything happened to the one advanced paramedic the Baca has, the community would simply have no viable ambulance service. Back in years past when providing quality ambulance service was more of a priority, there were always several ALS qualified paramedics available, as well as several basic medics. There was never a lapse in ALS coverage. 

The POA had an Ambulance Administrator up until about five years ago. This was a career-type position with benefits and a retirement plan. The woman holding this position for many years was a trained personnel manager as well as an ALS certified paramedic. People liked working for her and she always had plenty of options to provide safe quality medical care for folks on the way to the hospital. For reasons best known to them, this POA Board has been unwilling or unable to have such an administrator, and the two or three paramedics the POA does have, operate under the direction of management that has no expertise in medical matters. The results of this cost-cutting strategy are dubious at best.

When contacted for commentary on this column, Kevin Flewell, BGPOA Executive Director responded with a four paragraph email to me, the gist of which is as follows, in Kevin’s own words: “All three ambulance services in Saguache County (Baca Grande, Center, Saguache) struggle to attract and retain talent, including EMT’s and EMS Administrators….. Today’s employment market is particularly competitive across the country, especially for first responders and those who administer them. Housing availability and affordability also is a major consideration for most folks looking for new jobs, and/or relocation…. The BGPOA initiated an ongoing nationwide search for an EMS Administrator earlier this year, and is also actively seeking EMT candidates…” I am certain that Kevin would be happy to provide the full letter to all interested, as he expressed interest to me on getting more information out to Baca residents. I have talked to many ex-EMTs here in our community as of late and not one seemed to be aware that a widespread search for an EMS administrator was underway. Nor was I. Kevin is certain that this information has been distributed here locally, although just how, he did not say.

Most of this Board was elected on a clean-up-the-Baca platform and they have done this admirably. Most of the eyesores in the community are gone as much time, energy, and money has been allocated to this issue. Countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars have been spent accomplishing this; one can only speculate how good our emergency services would be with this same dedication to community wishes.

Road work

All road grading equipment is in working order and the POA has two very capable people doing the grading, Shawn Hollmer and Robert Prather. It is unknown whether or not the POA will be able to maintain the roads to the high standards set by Shawn Hollmer. There is much more traffic on Baca roads as the population of the Baca has exploded in the last two years, and more time and money will be necessary to retain these high standards. It is unclear whether or not the Baca has the funds or the will to do so; they have made no statement regarding improving the roads as a high priority. Their attitude seems to be along the lines of “we will do what we can as we can”.

Golf course

Baca residents will see the golf course beginning to green up as permission has finally been granted by the BGWSD (Baca Grande Water and Sanitation District) to begin irrigating again. The last figure this reporter heard given on the cost of the water necessary to keep the golf course reasonably green was $40,000 per year. That would be in addition to whatever amounts of labor and material costs are necessary to keep the golf course an actual golf course. It does not seem to be part of the new Baca action plan listed on the website to make the membership aware of just what the costs of running the golf course are and how other departments such as Emergency Services and Road Maintenance suffer because of this.

Almost no one attends the POA meetings save the Board, Baca employees, and myself. Hours and hours are spent on minutia while real issues for Baca residents go neglected. Please consider getting involved. You could make this a better place to live and maybe even save someone’s life.

For zoom meeting information, contact the POA office at 719-256-4171 or vist www.bacapoa.org.