Reader suggests ‘bidding out’ emergency services

9:20 am | August 28, 2012


It is my understanding that the Carter County Rescue Squad has not been forthcoming with its budget and financial records to the commission. As a former chief of the Hampton Volunteer Fire Department, I find this interesting as, in the past, volunteer fire departments have always had to present a financial report in order to receive funding. Hopefully, this is still a requirement.

In the spirit of transparency, I do not see what the problem is with this request. What is fair for the fire departments should be fair for the Rescue Squad, especially when the fire departments do not currently bill taxpayers’ insurance for a response to a fire and depend solely upon donations from the community and the commission. In other words, they are running on a much shorter shoestring.

Perhaps the answer to this controversy would be for the county to consider “bids” for their emergency services as is the case in most counties in Tennessee now, especially now, that not only has it been brought to our attention that the Rescue Squad is “privately” owned and is billing the taxpayers’ insurances $400-plus for trips to the hospital, and also that the Rescue Squad has failed to attend a meeting that was vital to the community and their emergency needs as the recent 911 meeting was.

One way to diffuse the controversy is for the squad to answer some of these important questions: How many “transports” did the squad make last year? How much was the squad reimbursed by insurance for these transports? How much is its overhead for salaries? Is the squad’s emergency techs trained in the highest level of emergency care and certified, especially in cardiac care? What is their budget requirements? Are our citizens getting the best emergency care possible, should we allow other emergency services a bid for this contract? These are just simple important questions that every taxpayer in Carter County is entitled to.

Some would argue that bidding this service might cost the taxpayers more, but taxpayers would have more control over these contracts and could choose the level of service they felt was best for all.

As the old saying goes, “What the people DON’T know WILL hurt them.”

- Kenneth Heaton, Hampton

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