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Current ambulance services sees decrease in calls; new Unicoi County EMS still planned

By Richard Rourk

As Unicoi County EMS moves forward to meet its scheduled start date in July, Washington County EMS continues to work to provide service even during uncertain times.

According to Washington County EMS of Unicoi County Executive Director Adam Copas, the EMS service has been busy during the time of COVID-19.

“To say that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t affected us would be untrue,” Copas said. “From a call volume standpoint, our responses have decreased, which is the case regionally for all EMS systems. We estimate a daily reduction of 30 percent with higher percentages on occasion. Along with decreases in transports also comes a decrease in revenue, which we continue to monitor and make modifications to our daily activities to reduce expenses wherever we can.”

Despite the decrease in call volume, Copas and his staff are reportedly staying busy.

“Our staff remains steadfast and strong,” Copas said. “We established response plans early on in preparation for COVID-19, which boosted their confidence and helped them navigate these trying times. Their abilities, along with their experience and environment, has prepared them to perform accordingly.”

Copas acknowledged that it takes everyone, especially the citizens of Unicoi County to keep the curve of COVID-19 flattened.

“As the chief of a small and tight-knit community I cannot stress enough the importance of social distancing and the other safe practices that have been instituted to safeguard everyone from harm and to not let your guard down,” Copas said. “These precautions are important, even as we begin to open back up for business as a state and community.”

According to Copas, all emergency responders are prepared to continue to fight COVID-19. “The relationships and interoperability that has been established between other public safety entities and our local hospital during this time cannot be matched,” Copas said. “It is those relationships that will help us see the end of this trying time and help guide and prepare us for the next event when it presents itself.”

The Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, May 6, at Erwin Town Hall.

“The inability to meet regularly has presented us with challenges,” Copas said. “However, the leadership of the board of directors is strong and we are still confident and prepared to meet our timelines.”