MORA, N.M. — After a teenage boy died before an ambulance could get to him, Mora County Ambulance must now prove to the state of New Mexico that it’s capable of responding to medical emergencies.
More than a dozen other patients in need of emergency transport were also left stranded since last October. The Public Regulation Commission is keeping an eye on the county ambulance service by demanding a monthly status report that will show the time and date of every ambulance call and response.
A frantic relative called 911 on May 31 when 15-year-old Nazareth Lara was crushed under a truck at a work site. Lara died instantly and a Mora County ambulance never arrived. Instead, an ambulance from San Miguel County showed up nearly 40 minutes after the accident, KOB-TV (http://bit.ly/2wF6o4s ) reported Tuesday.
The television station reported no one from Mora County Ambulance could respond because their primary driver could not leave his small children home alone and the secondary driver wasn’t scheduled.
“Every minute counts when an ambulance is called,” Public Regulation Commissioner Valerie Espinoza said last week during a hearing in Santa Fe. “That determines if that person survives.”
Now the ambulance service must explain to the Public Regulation Commission why it was unable to show up to more than a dozen emergencies like Lara’s.
The state Department of Public Safety accused Mora County of not being available to pick up patients at least 10 times between October and November 2016. During a snow storm in December, DPS officers were forced to take injured drivers and patients to the hospital themselves.
Mora County Ambulance has told state regulators it is understaffed, with only three employees.
County attorney Michael Aragon said he plans to hire several more paramedics as the county reprioritizes its budget.
The ambulance service has until November to make changes. If not, the commission has the power to fine the ambulance service or revoke its certificate.
This version corrects in the headline that the county accused of not responding to medical calls is in New Mexico, not Nevada.