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Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors meets for first time

Dr. Michael Sutherland will serve as the medical director for the Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

History was made on Monday, Feb. 24, as the Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors met for the first time.

The final two seats open on the board were announced during the meeting. Dr. Michael Sutherland was named medical director and will fill one of the nine seats and Brian Merritt was named the member-at-large by Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely.

Sutherland and Merritt, join Evely, Unicoi County Commissioner John Mosley, Town of Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley, Town of Erwin Alderwoman Rachelle Hyder-Shurtz, Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch, Town of Unicoi Alderman Jeff Linville and Unicoi County Hospital Administrator Eric Carroll on the nine-member board.

The board was joined on Monday by Washington County/Johnson City EMS Executive Director Dan Wheeley and Washington County/Johnson City EMS at Unicoi County Executive Director Adam Copas.

“This board is moving forward with the best interests of the county at heart,” Copas said. “Your first order of business is to select officers.”

Mosley was named the inaugural chairman of the Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors following a unanimous vote by the board. Mosley, who has been the Unicoi County Ambulance Committee Chairman for the past year, was nominated by Evely.

Hensley was named inaugural vice chairwoman of the board following a unanimous vote by the board. Hensley was nominated by Merritt.

The board voted unanimously to have the yet-to-be-named Unicoi County EMS executive director as treasurer, following a motion made by Lynch.

Lynch and Mosley then proposed to name a sub-committee to negotiate a contract with Copas to be named as Unicoi County EMS executive director. Copas, however, objected.

“It’s my opinion that you advertise the position of executive director of Unicoi County EMS,” Copas said. “As a neutral party you have to be prepared if I said no to the offer.”

Copas did not withdraw his name from consideration but recommended the board do its due diligence in making the hire.

“I am still interested in being considered,” Copas said. “I have made relationships here, set up the staff, but that’s not to say I’m the best person for the job.”

Copas has been the executive director for Washington County/EMS in Unicoi County since Washington County/Johnson City EMS signed a one-year contract to serve as the ambulance provider for Unicoi County beginning on July 15, 2019.

The board unanimously voted to send a job opening notice out for Unicoi County EMS executive director following a motion made by Hyder-Shurtz.

The board also named Carroll temporary secretary of the board and discussed a transition of power to whomever the hire is for Unicoi County EMS administrative assistant.

To meet approval for a license to operate as an ambulance service, Unicoi County EMS must have an ambulance be inspected by the state.

“Washington County could lease Unicoi one ambulance for a dollar, for up to a year,” Wheeley said. “That way you can be working on finalizing your license and be ready to go in July.”

Copas suggested that the board accept a uniform of a black polo that will have the new Unicoi County EMS logo and green pants for the staff to wear.

“These uniforms are very breathable,” Copas said.

The uniform was approved following a unanimous vote.

The Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors is scheduled to meet again on Friday, March 13, at 4 p.m.