By Richard Rourk
Washington County/Johnson City EMS officially took over Unicoi County’s ambulance service on Monday, July 15.
According to Unicoi County Ambulance Committee Chairman and Unicoi County Commissioner John Mosley, Washington County/Johnson City EMS took over the ambulance service at 7 a.m. that day.
“They have two advanced life support (ALS) ambulances ready 24 hours a day and one basic life support (BLS) ambulance that will be used for transport,” Mosley told The Erwin Record.
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 on June 14. The contract between the entities calls for Washington County/Johnson City EMS to provide two ALS paramedic ambulance units 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. In addition, Washington County/Johnson City EMS will provide one staffed basic life support BLS ambulance for 10 hours a day, five days a week. This BLS ambulance will run Monday through Friday.
Unicoi County will pay a subsidy of $218,677, under the interlocal agreement that was signed following the June 14 commission meeting.
According to Mosley, there are currently eight full-time paramedics working in Unicoi County for Washington County/Johnson City EMS.
“They hired three full-time employees since last week bringing their total number of full-time employees up to eight,” Mosley said. “They (Washington County/Johnson City EMS) are working hard to get fully staffed, which would be 14 full-time employees total.”
It was announced on July 3 that Washington County/Johnson City EMS Lieutenant and Training Coordinator Adam Copas will serve as director of operations for Washington County/Johnson City EMS in Unicoi County.
Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely said having a new ambulance service provider has solved a major issue for the county.
“I’ve lost a lot of sleep worrying about the county not having ambulance service,” Evely said. “We can breathe easier and move forward.”
Mosley agreed with Evely.
“I think the county will be in better shape in regards to the ambulance service,” Mosley said. “We (the Unicoi County Commission) would like to thank Jim Reeves (CEO of MedicOne) for sticking with us until Washington County took over.”
Copas and Washington County/Johnson City EMS Executive Director Dan Wheeley could not be reached for comment prior to The Erwin Record’s press deadline.