At a board of supervisors meeting on Sept. 28, District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli announced that Stanislaus County will be withdrawing from Mountain-Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency (Mountain-Valley EMSA) on June 30, 2021.
Mountain-Valley EMSA is a joint powers authority made up of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa and Stanislaus counties that coordinates and regulates local emergency services.
The board of directors is composed of a member from each county, and Tofanelli is the chairperson of the board and the representative for Calaveras County.
The agency contracts with ambulance providers and air ambulance providers, certifies and provides training for EMTs and paramedics, certifies trauma levels at hospitals, and provides monitoring and oversight of ambulance service.
Funding for the agency comes through grants from the state, as well as various fees for services provided. Because funding from the state is based on population, the bulk of the agency’s state funding comes through Stanislaus County.
While Calaveras County’s contribution for the $1.6 million current year budget is about $20,000, Stanislaus County’s contribution is about $245,000.
The majority of the fees collected also come from Stanislaus County, where significantly more services are provided.
“Most of the ambulance service is within that county,” Tofanelli said at the meeting. “It’s going to be a major financial hit to Mountain-Valley EMSA to be moving on with the four counties that we have involved right now.”
The offices for Mountain-Valley EMSA are currently in Modesto, so a new location will also be needed.
“I’ve had conversations with that board about moving the current offices into Calaveras County,” Tofanelli said. “We’re pretty centrally located. I think most of that board agrees that the proper place to put it would be in Calaveras County.”
The agency currently employs nine people, but that number will likely come down to three or four, Tofanelli said. Stanislaus County plans to offer employment to all of the agency’s current employees.
“We are in dire need here to really quickly start our recruitment period,” Tofanelli said.
To address the departure of Stanislaus County, Mountain-Valley EMSA has created two committees. One committee is focused on recruiting new employees, finding a new location for the offices and looking into generating revenues for the move, while the other committee is looking into recruiting additional counties to Mountain-Valley EMSA.
“There’s two counties that expressed some possibilities of joining Mountain-Valley when Stanislaus leaves,” Tofanelli said. “I can’t say those counties right now because we don’t have an ongoing situation with them.”
The agency has $1.5 million in reserves, which will help with the transition, Tofanelli said.
“We do have a reserve, which is going to help tremendously over the next three or four years,” he said. “Financially, we’re OK to start with. My concern is long-term—moving forward long-term and how we’re going to sustain services we provide on a budget without having counties themselves putting general funds into it.”
Tofanelli said that it is unclear how Mountain-Valley EMSA’s current contracts with ambulance providers in Stanislaus County will be sorted out.
“Whether those contracts go with Stanislaus County, or they stay with Mountain-Valley, is at issue,” he said. “Until that part of it’s settled, it’s a tough situation.”