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Tenn. county receives bids from AMR, Ameripro, Falck and Priority Ambulance

Knox County officials received an independent review of their current EMS as current contracted service is set to expire


Photo/AMR East Tennessee

By Bill Carey

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Following months of concern about ambulance response times and service availability, Knox County Commission officials met to discuss the future of EMS in the county.

County leaders received independent report findings from Fitch and Associates, the firm hired to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the county’s ambulance services and operations, WVLT reported. The county currently has a contract with American Medical Response (AMR).

The current 10-year contract with AMR is approaching its expiration. AMR, Ameripro of Tennessee, Falck and Priority Ambulance all submitted a bid for the upcoming contract. The winning contract will take over responsibilities for ambulance services on February 1.

The report highlighted an agreement between AMR and the county to change response times from 10 to 17 minutes and provide coverage over a larger area with fewer ambulances.

AMR is working to address a staffing shortage by training additional personnel. As indicated in the report, their current staffing levels are at 65%.

J. Todd Sheridan from Fitch and Associates highlighted five crucial discoveries. He emphasized that the geographical area served by Knox County demands substantial resources, and there has been no provision for additional funding to accommodate the rising costs, WATE reported.

“The current contract is not financially viable or operationally viable as it sits today, as it started in 2013 and has had about 11 amendments since then,” Sheridan explained. “Because of that, it has not had a market correction as you’ve seen a lot of costs go up since COVID entered our world in 2020.”

Sheridan added that response times are another concern, “Right now the contract is designed to capture and for the contractor to perform in the highest volume areas. However, that’s not creating an equitable response in your rural communities that’s getting elongated response times.”

Sheridan also pointed out a deficiency in transparency concerning performance monitoring. He noted that presently, the EMS contractor supplies the medical director, software, and all monitoring programs for the system. He recommended that the county should assume responsibility for providing these components.