Ambulance service questions linger during Rescue Squad talks

10:00 am | May 23, 2013
Photo by Brandon Hicks

Photo by Brandon Hicks
The Carter County Emergency and Rescue Squad responds to a car wreck along a county road. Although the squad and the county have been negotiating a new service contract for approximately two years, County Mayor Leon Humphrey said he believes no contingency plan exists if those negotiations fail.

Even though the county and a local ambulance provider are in the midst of a two-week negotiation period, some local officials and residents are wondering what will become of emergency services in Carter County if those negotiations fail.

Early last week, the county’s Budget Committee voted to enter into the negotiation period with Carter County Emergency and Rescue Squad. For almost two years, the two entities have attempted to reach an agreement on an extension of emergency services. To date, those attempts have proven unsuccessful.

But according to County Commission Chairman Tom Bowers, the most recent talks are beginning to bear fruit.

“So far, I’m pretty pleased with the way negotiations are going,” Tom Bowers said. “I feel confident that, with the good state of negotiations between the Rescue Squad and the county, we will have an ambulance service in place on July 1.”

Despite Bowers’ confidence, with the July 1 expiration date approaching, some are wondering what, if any, contingency has been addressed in case negotiations sour again.

According to County Mayor Leon Humphrey, no such contingency exists.

“At no point in time in the approximately two years of this discussion has there ever been any alternatives or options put forth,” Humphrey said. “That’s what we should have been focusing on these last 12 months, knowing that this issue was at hand. Now, we’re playing games at the 12 o’clock hour.”

Other agencies are waiting for word on how to proceed if these negotiations fail.

At Monday’s County Commission meeting, Humphrey told the commission of a letter from Carter County 911 requesting guidance in the event negotiations fail. According to 911 Chairman Andrew Worley, that instruction is still pending.

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