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Ambulance committee hears operations update

Members of the Unicoi County Ambulance Committee including Garland “Bubba”
Evely, Eric Carroll, Doris Hensley and John Mosley, listen to an ambulance service update (Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County Ambulance Committee, which oversees Washington County/Johnson City EMS of Unicoi County – the current ambulance provider – met on Feb. 25 and continued to collect data.

Washington County/Johnson City EMS of Unicoi County will continue to be Unicoi County’s ambulance provider until Unicoi County EMS takes over in July 2020. The Unicoi County Ambulance Committee will continue to meet until the contract with Washington County/Johnson City EMS ends.

“Over the last 30 days, we took 343 total EMS calls and of those calls 84 percent were transports,” Washington County/Johnson City EMS of Unicoi County Executive Director Adam Copas said. “We met our transport goal of 80 percent which is good. Those calls are favored because of their collection rates.”

According to Copas, the ambulance service saw a 30 percent decrease in their response time. “Trucks are going out quicker than expected and arriving on scene at a rate faster than expected,” Copas said.

Unicoi County Commission Vice Chairman Jamie Harris acknowledged that the decrease in response time was very important to the county.

“That’s huge,” Harris said. 

According to Copas, Washington County/Johnson City EMS of Unicoi County has received 2,244 calls since taking over the ambulance service in the county on July 15, 2019.

“We have received 2,244 calls between July 15 and Jan. 31 and of those calls 1,721 were transports,” Copas said. “That is 77 percent, but as we continue to push above our 80 percent transport rate that number will rise above the 80 percent target.”

Since July 15, the total revenues were $567,393 and included a $100,000 contribution from the county that was used to launch the current ambulance service.

According to Copas, all of the data so far shows stability with ambulance service in Unicoi County.

“We are staying very stable over the last 60 to 90 days and I see that continuing,” Copas said. “We can be small but be very good at what we do. We push our staff to be their very best. It very much is a second family, so it’s about making it a good and happy place to work.”

During the Feb. 25 meeting, Town of Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley announced that the Unicoi County Memorial Hospital Board could be releasing $150,000 to Unicoi County EMS on March 4.

“I did put forth a request for the release of $150,000 from the foundation and if that passes we hope to do a public check presentation and an announcement of where funds received from the sale of the former hospital are going,” Hensley said. “The Unicoi County Memorial Hospital Board is meeting on March 4 at 10 a.m.”

Also during the Feb. 25 meeting, Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely announced that bids from a request for the purchase of two ambulances and the Unicoi County EMS executive director’s truck were received and slated to be opened this week.

Unicoi County EMS is slated to take over ambulance service once the contract for Washington County/Johnson City EMS of Unicoi County ends on July 1.

The Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors which oversees Unicoi County EMS is made up of  nine seats, including Evely, Unicoi County Commissioner John Mosley, Hensley, Town of Erwin Alderwoman Rachelle Hyder-Shurtz, Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch, Town of Unicoi Alderman Jeff Linville, Unicoi County Hospital Administrator Eric Carroll, Unicoi County Medical Director Dr. Michael Sutherland and member-at-large Brian Merritt.

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

According to Evely, the Unicoi County Commission will meet in a future special called meeting to approve the allocation of state grant funds and foundation funding available for the purchases of the Unicoi County EMS vehicles.

The Unicoi County Ambulance Committee is scheduled to meet again on March 5 at 6 p.m. and on March 25 at 3 p.m.