New EMS task force will evaluate services statewide, recommend new standards


Boram Kim


The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has established a 20-member EMS system sustainability task force to evaluate medical services and systems throughout the state.


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Approved in June, the Ambulance Service Sustainability and State Licensing law allows CDPHE to set statewide standards for ground ambulance agencies, similar to the department’s current role in licensing air ambulances. Colorado is the only state in the country without centralized licensing and oversight of ground ambulance services – they are currently licensed at the county level.

As required by the law, 20 members were appointed to the task force this month. The group, which equally represents rural and urban areas of Colorado, will issue reports and recommendations on consistent statewide standards for ground and air ambulance services, equitable access, staffing and retention, and sustainable funding.

“This group brings together professionals with decades of experience in emergency services,” said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer, CDPHE. “Coloradans will benefit tremendously from the modernization of our emergency medical services, and I’m looking forward to working with this highly qualified team.”

The task force work will be done in five phases, beginning with recommendations for a new regulatory framework with emergency medical services. The group’s work will culminate by 2027.

Statewide licensing of ground ambulance services through CDPHE will result in consistent protective standards and will ensure better Medicaid reimbursement rates for ground ambulance agencies, as it follows a regulatory model that meets federal Medicaid guidelines. At the same time, the new law preserves the ability for local governments to control the services of ambulance agencies operating in their jurisdictions and to negotiate contracts with ground ambulance agencies.

The task force members, and the area they represent in the group, are:

  • Sen. Rachel Zenzinger. Senate. A primary sponsor of the Ambulance Service Sustainability and State Licensing law, Zenzinger represents the 19th District and is Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. She is also a member of the Education, Joint Budget, and Statutory Revision committees.
  • Rep. Mark Baisley. House. Also a primary sponsor of the new state licensing law, Baisley represents the 39th District, and is a member of the House Education, Health and Insurance, and Joint Technology committees.
  • Elaine McManis. CDPHE. McManis is Division Director, Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services for CDPHE.
  • Cherilyn Wittler. EMS agency representative. Wittler, of Springfield, is the EMS Director at Southeast Colorado Hospital Ambulance Service. Wittler is currently board chair for the Springfield EMS Association and is a Baca County representative on the Southeast Colorado Regional Emergency Medical and Trauma Services Advisory Council.
  • Dr. Gina Carr. EMS agency representative. Dr. Carr, of Lake City, is the EMS medical director for Hinsdale County EMS. She is a board-certified family practice physician and has served as the medical director for Lake City Area Medical Center since 2018.
  • Christopher Williams. EMS agency representative. Williams, of Denver, is the Regional Manager for AMR/Global Medical Response, a private ambulance company providing ambulance and critical care transport in multiple communities along the Front Range. He also brings over 20 years of experience in Colorado’s EMS system as an EMT and paramedic working in a variety of EMS systems, including 911 emergency services and interfacility systems.
  • Scott Van Slyke. EMS agency representative. Van Slyke, of Rifle, is the EMS and Training Division Chief for Colorado River Fire and Rescue. Van Slyke began his EMS career in 2006 as an EMT and became a paramedic in 2009.
  • Dr. Jeremy DeWall. EMS physician. Dr. DeWall, of Woodland Park, currently serves as the medical director for EMS agencies in nine counties and the EMS education program at Pikes Peak Community College, and is regional medical director for the Southeastern Colorado Regional Emergency Medical and Trauma Services Advisory Council.
  • James Robinson. Paramedic. Robinson, of Littleton, is assistant chief of Thompson Valley Emergency Medical Services, and has been a certified paramedic for over 30 years. Robinson serves on the National Fire Protection Association Technical Committee on EMS, Committee on Tactical Emergency Casualty Care, and the Safeguard Medical Technology Evaluation Steering Team.
  • Lisa Ward. EMT. Ward, of Denver, is the policy coordinator for the Health District of Northern Larimer County and lead emergency medical technician for the Denver Health and Hospital Authority. Ward also serves on the Denver Lead Water Advisory Council.
  • Annie Dorchak. Community Integrated Health Care Service agency. Dorchak, of Arvada, is a community paramedic at Evergreen Fire Rescue. Dorchak has been a paramedic for 33 years.
  • Sean Caffrey. EMS group. Caffery, of Denver, currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner of the Crested Butte Fire Protection District.
  • Tim Dienst. State Emergency Medical and Trauma Services Advisory Council. Dienst, of Woodland Park, is the chair of the State Emergency Medical and Trauma Services Advisory Council, or SEMTAC. He also serves as the chief executive officer of the Ute Pass Regional Health Service District.
  • Matthew Sammond. International Association of Fire Fighters. Sammond, of Centennial, serves as a firefighter and fire medic with Littleton Fire Rescue and South Metro Fire Rescue.
  • Daniel Barela. EMS educator. Barela, of Delta, serves as executive director of the Western Regional Emergency Medical and Trauma Services Advisory Council.
  • Brandon Daruna. Special districts. Daruna, of Eagle, is the Chief Executive Officer of Eagle County Paramedic Services and an adjunct professor at the University of Denver, Daniels College of Business.
  • Sean Wood. Counties. Wood, of Georgetown, is the county commissioner of Clear Creek County.
  • Mike Freeman. Counties. Freeman, of Greeley, is the county commissioner of Weld County.
  • Barbara Huber. Colorado Municipal League. Huber, of Pueblo, is fire chief of the Pueblo Fire Department.
  • Jim Keating. Colorado State Fire Chiefs. Keating, of Breckenridge, is fire chief of the Red, White, and Blue Fire Protection District.

This press release was provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.