Loudon County officials discuss ambulance regulations
(WBIR-Loudon County) One East Tennessee county wants to put more regulations on its ambulance services.

Loudon County adopted regulations in 1994, and they haven't changed since.

"Right now there is virtually no restrictions whatsoever," said County Mayor Buddy Bradshaw. "It's giving an update on some of those regulations. And the game has changed a lot in 21 years, too."

Bradshaw said he wants to build these regulations based on current state rules.

"Some of the updates are the years an ambulance is in service, the mileage, a few tweaks on the amendment for insurance coverages they have to have. One of the hottest topics of the debate is an office open 40 hours for patients to address issues or make payments," said Bradshaw.

Priority Ambulance was awarded Loudon County's emergency and non-emergency contract receiving all calls coming though 911. Other services still run ambulances in the county.

"Priority won the contract so I think we deserve to help them as much as we can as well as help the county. At the same time, we aren't telling somebody they can't. If people want to use another ambulance service, that's their right," said Bradshaw.

Rural/Metro Regional Director Erin Downey worries whenever restrictions are discussed. She thinks restrictions could eventually lead to exclusivity in the county. That would cut other ambulance services out of entirely.

"It would take away from the transports we currently do in Loudon County. We have a good partnership with Fort Loudon Medical Center, one of the Covenant facilities, and it would take away from our relationship with them," said Downey.

Bradshaw doesn't think this will cause any ambulance service to have to leave.

"I don't want us to get to a point where nobody wants the Loudon County contract. Especially the rural areas, I want to keep that market going. So I want to make sure we are best served moving forward in the future," said Downey.

Due to American Medical Response acquiring Rural Metro, Mayor Bradshaw said the commission is tabling any resolution for an ordinance change. He said the county wants to give the acquisition some time before making a decision. Downey said this is a good thing for Rural/Metro, because it will provide more time without these restrictions in that county.