Ambulance service

In their final meeting of the year, the Blount County E911 Board created two review committees to look at the ambulance contract/renewal with Blount EMS.

One committee – made up of Neal Brooks, Caleb Branch, Chris Hill, Larry Armstrong, and Dean Gilbert – will take a detailed look at the ambulance contract. The other – composed of Neal Brooks, Brandon Horton, Brent Dierking, and Arthur Willis – will look at the dispatch renewal.

Blount County E911 Director Neal Brooks said it’s time to consider the ambulance contract and to look at both dispatch and response contracts and either renew or extend them. Brooks noted that there is a lot of wording in the documents that needs clarification.

Board attorney Alex Smith said he believes that minor changes to the contracts would be okay and that they might not have to be rebid on the dispatch side. He added that response times and penalties, if not changed, would also probably be okay from a legal standpoint.

Brooks told the board that a draft is needed by March and he again stressed the need for clarification of certain words within the old contract. Smith said March would be a good time since the documents need approval by June to allow enough lead time before the old contract expires in November 2020.

“I would urge that you develop a set of parameters and get a list from them (Blount EMS) as to what they expect,” Smith said.

The board agreed that the performance of Blount EMS has been very good, but there remain some issues that need to be addressed.

One issue is that of home structure fire response. Brooks said fire departments want an ambulance on site; the ambulance service feels an ambulance is not necessary unless there is an injury.

A question was also raised concerning indigent care. Brooks told the board all the ambulance service can do is “bill for and hope” as the Blount County Healthcare Authority only reimburses the service for prison transport, on-site events, and high school football games.

In other matters, Brooks reported the board had received an unexpected $54,849 from the state. In a training update, he said, “We did fairly well with our training, doing more than a lot of agencies in the area. We should be able to continue with our trend of doing a lot of continuing education.”