County will hear first AMR presentation Monday

Two members of the Anderson County Operations Committee have some specific concerns they want addressed during the Anderson County Operations Committee meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, May 13.

One of those concerns is the timing of how American Medical Response (AMR) was brought into the discussion of providing EMS services to Anderson County.

Chairman of the Operation Committee District Four Commissioner Tim Isbel questioned the way AMR was put on the Operations’ agenda.

“I was told it was a last-second idea,” Isbel said in an e-mail when asked about the AMR presentation next Monday. “But AMR has already made out paperwork and even made the statement that they had three minutes to speak, they had a much more prepared presentation.”

Any citizen or person is given three minutes to address County Commission and, presumably, its committees.

“I think everyone has the right to speak, just as we do (commissioners), that any citizen or person has the right to speak about anything not on the agenda,” Isbel said.

The AMR presentation was a “last-second” addition after the committee deadline, Isbel noted.

Isbel also noted that he, Chairman of the Operations Committee, was not told about the presentation until after it was added — even though several commissioners knew AMR was going to be added.

With the way the situation was presented, Isbel asked, “Is this the way they do business?”

Isbel added, “My opinion is that the taxpayers of Anderson County are the owners of EMS and we should hold public meetings to prepare documents and notify our local news authority about this topic.”

Isbell said he plans on having a discussion with AMR representatives before the May 13 meeting to get a better understanding about AMR’s presentation.

For District Three Commissioner Josh Anderson, a member of the Operations Committee, the concerns revolve around concerns that have been voiced to him by the residents of District Three.

“Here’s the crux of what I’m wanting to find out at Operations: Will AMR be staging ambulances along the county lines and give priority to Knoxville and the surrounding urban areas because that’s where the business is,” Anderson answered via e-mail.

“Will the response times to the more frontier areas of Anderson County such as Anderson County Park in my district or New River stay the same or improve? AMR is the largest private ambulance service in the country/world so I’m not concerned about them going bankrupt, but I am hearing concerns from citizens that if Anderson County isn’t as profitable as they thought, will they want to pull out after a couple years? Will they come back and ask for a subsidy from the tax levy?

I’ll want to know if their company has any history of doing that in another communities. I’ll also want to know if we will be forefeiting our county EMS assets to AMR, or if there’s an option to lease or sell them to the company. If the county did go the private route we would have to come up with an RFP and bid this out, but AMR most likely would get the bid because of their size.

“My final concern would be regarding the employment transition of our current EMS employees. The employees currently pay into TCRS and some of them aren’t vested yet, so I would like to help develop a plan that can get those individuals become vested so they don’t lose the county’s matching portion, that may require a special private act to the state legislature, but I would want to make sure those individuals are protected. I don’t want them to feel caught in the crossfire of the political fight that the EMS issue has become in Anderson County.”