The Loudon County Commission on Friday voted to put ambulance provider Rural Metro on notice, voting to have the county attorney send a letter outlining a series of alleged deficiencies and a deadline of 60 days to address them.
County Commissioner Bob Franke said the commission passed a motion to send the letter after hearing a list of the alleged deficiencies which included the 911 dispatchers not knowing where Rural Metro vehicles are located.
According to the dispatchers, because the vehicles do not have GPS tracking capability the drivers must notify dispatch of their location. Franke said there have been reports some Rural Metro ambulances have not been at the location they notified dispatch they would be at.
One of the most serious deficiencies involved a report of a Rural Metro driver refusing to transport a badly burned fatality from a traffic accident. The driver allegedly told responders at the scene that he didnít want the smell of the burn victim in his ambulance.
Rural Metro Chief Jerry Harnish said he had not yet heard about the letter. He said he would read the letter and respond to the allegations next week. He confirmed the 60-day notice was necessary to end the contract with Loudon County.
Rural Metro has been engaged in a turf battle in Loudon County against rival ambulance service Priority. The county has been using Rural Metro but cities, including Loudon and Lenoir City, had opted to contract with Priority. An informal agreement between the two services will allow dispatchers to send the closest ambulance on high-priority calls, despite their location in the county. Earlier this week Rural Metro dropped a lawsuit against Lenoir City.
Franke, whose 12 years of service on commission will end Sept. 1 when the new commission is sworn in, said he has been concerned his district in Greenback has been underserved by the Rural Metro service. Rural Metro has an ambulance stationed in the area from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., he said.
It will be up to the new commission to deal with the ambulance contract after they are sworn in, he said.
A spokesperson for Priority declined comment.