During a meeting on Monday, April 15, the Unicoi County Commission voted to issue requests for information for ambulance service. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County Commission held a special called meeting on Monday, April 15, to discuss the future of ambulance service in Unicoi County.

Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely joined Unicoi County Commission Chairman Loren Thomas, Unicoi County Commission Vice Chairman Jamie Harris and Unicoi County commissioners John Mosley, Glenn White, Stephen Hendrix, Matthew Rice, Jason Harris, and Marie Rice. Unicoi County Commissioner Todd Wilcox was absent as he was on a call. Wilcox is an officer with the Town of Erwin.

The commission voted unanimously to authorize the Unicoi County Ambulance Committee to advertise for a request for information (RFI) in providing county ambulance service. The motion was made by Marie Rice and seconded by Mosley. According to Mosley, the RFIs will go out later this week and can take up to two weeks to get responses back.

The commission voted to table the authorization of the Unicoi County Ambulance Committee to advertise for request for proposals (RFP) for county ambulance services. The motion was made by Mosley and seconded by Hendrix to table the RFP discussion.

“I recommend we wait until we have sent out the RFIs,” Mosley said. “We can revisit this at the next county commission meeting.”

The Unicoi County Commission is scheduled to meet again on Monday, April 22.

The commission had to first authorize Evely to provide a notice of termination of the current interlocal agreement that the county has with both the Town of Erwin and the Town of Unicoi before moving forward with any new agreements for ambulance services. The commission voted unanimously to allow Evely to terminate the current interlocal agreement. A motion was made by White and seconded by Jamie Harris. The interlocal agreements had to be terminated due to MedicOne Medical Response’s termination of the proposed contract earlier this month.

“We are just recognizing that MedicOne isn’t going through with the contract, so we are just hitting reset,” Unicoi County Attorney Doug Shults said.

The final order of business for the commission was to ensure that the county would have ambulance service in the interim. The commission voted unanimously for the emergency provision of ambulance service by MedicOne Medical Response until a new ambulance contract has been approved by the Unicoi County Commission.

“We are just recognizing that they are here on a handshake deal,” Matthew Rice said.

Evely said after Monday’s meeting that he would be working out a temporary deal with neighboring ambulance services.

“My concentration will be working on an interlocal agreement with Washington County to provide services in the short term, for the next 90 days to 6 months,” Evely said. “We are trying to make the most of a bad situation.”