Loudon Co. Commission approves Rural/Metro's early exit
Steve Butera-(WBIR-Loudon) Fewer ambulances will be on the roads in Loudon County as the county's current emergency transport contract ends a year early on Dec. 31.
County mayor Buddy Bradshaw stressed Monday evening that cutback will only be temporary and the county is already shopping for a new company to take over.
"As far as the transition goes, during this time, effective in the morning, they'll be scaling back to one full-time truck, one 12-hour truck, 'day truck' as you call it," the mayor said after the county commission voted unanimously to accept Rural/Metro proposal to end their contract early. "That would be a reduced number of ambulances here in Loudon County."
There's been a feud between the county and the company since August when the county put Rural/Metro "on notice" -- and warned the company to improve its services or face the possibility of losing their contract. The move followed decisions by Lenoir City and the city of Loudon to change their ambulance service providers from Rural/Metro to Knoxville-based Priority.
Priority has also been under the microscope. CEO Bryan Gibson's former ambulance company filed for bankruptcy and shut down without notice in North Carolina.
Priority is one of four ambulance companies which have already expressed interest in taking over the county's full emergency services.
Rural/Metro will continue to provide non-emergency services and no jobs will be lost, although some employees will expect to commute to other counties for work.
In a statement, Tom Milton with Rural/Metro said: "The Commission did vote tonight to amend our contract ending our emergency services in Loudon County as of December 31, 2014. We will continue to serve Loudon as an emergency provider through the month of December to allow the county to select a new provider by going through a thorough RFP process which they have already released. Rural/Metro is proud to have been a partner with Loudon County for the last decade and will continue to serve our Loudon County cutomers in a non-emergency capacity. We also will continue to participate in regional emergency planning to ensure if any large scale emergency should occur that we will be ready to respond for the residents of Loudon County."
Mayor Bradshaw plans to meet with Rural/Metro, Priority, and other 911 leaders Tuesday afternoon to further discuss contingency plans for interim ambulance services, until a new service is named.