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Unicoi County EMS takes over

The staff of the new Unicoi County EMS includes, pictured from left, Sgt. Patrick Potts, Capt. Kevin Runion, Administrative Assistant Lauren White, Paramedic Kevin Bradford, Paramedic Ashley Tolbert, Lt. David Walker, Sgt. James Hady, AEMT Jim McKinney, Lt. Nick Santiago, Lt. Debbie Tipton and Unicoi County EMS Executive Director Chief Adam Copas. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard)

By Richard Rourk

Unicoi County EMS officially began serving Unicoi County on Monday, Aug. 24, at 8:06 a.m.

Unicoi County EMS Executive Director Adam Copas made the move official by announcing to dispatch that the ambulance service and its three ambulances are ready for duty.

“This is the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new chapter,” Copas said. “We hope to meet the citizens’ needs and to be satisfactory in their eyes.”

Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely, who was joined by Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors Chairman John Mosley, Washington County/Johnson City EMS Executive Director Dan Wheeley and Erwin Police Chief Regan Tilson, spoke a few words during the opening day ceremony.

“We have been working on this for more than two years,” Evely said. “We have the right leadership and that, combined with Washington County’s guidance, we are now off the ground.”

Washington County/Johnson City EMS served Unicoi County as ambulance provider for the past year. Unicoi County signed a one-year interlocal agreement with Washington County/Johnson City EMS following a unanimous vote by the Unicoi County Commission during a special called meeting that took place in June 2019.

Funding for Unicoi County EMS to purchase three ambulances and a service director’s vehicle came from funds that the Town of Erwin and the Board of Controls for the Unicoi County Foundation for Healthcare Inc. has provided. Board of Controls for the Unicoi County Foundation for Healthcare Inc. President Roland Bailey handed Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors a $150,000 check in March to help out with expenses for the startup ambulance service. Bailey is expected to present the EMS service with a second check for $100,000 in the coming days.

The ambulances for Unicoi County EMS arrived in the county last month and, according to Copas, the exterior design was created locally.

“The staff is responsible for the unique color scheme,” Copas said in July. “Our logo, uniform, the design for Unicoi County EMS and the trucks, everything we wear and that represents the employees, I felt needed as much input by them. The color scheme they chose is unlike any other ambulance in the United States; they truly are one-of-a-kind.”

According to Copas, Unicoi County EMS had a very successful first day.

“The first day has been very manageable and I couldn’t ask for a more promising start,” Copas said on Monday afternoon. “The staff are as excited as ever and they, like myself, feel the future is bright for all of Unicoi County.”