County moving ahead with ambulance service regulations
After months of conferring with local and state authorities, Hamblen County is moving closer to new ambulance service regulations.
The resolution, which has the full support of the County’s Public Service Committee, to regulate ambulance services was first presented to the Public Safety Committee in August 2012, and after months of revisions, it appears the 15-page ordinance and two-page resolution will pass during the County Commission meeting Jan. 23.
“We have been working with CTAS (County Technical Assistance Service), Morristown Hamblen Emergency Management Agency Director Bell, Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain, Public Safety Committee Chairman Nancy Phillips, over the last several months, putting together something that we believe would serve Hamblen County citizens regarding ambulance service,” said County Attorney Chris Capps. “It is a rather long ordinance, due to the fact that it is a very complicated area of regulation and attempted to ensure a high quality of (ambulance service).”
In August 2012, Morristown-Hamblen EMS presented the resolution to the Public Safety committee in hopes that it would ensure anyone who needs emergency care inside county limits would receive the same quality of care.
The resolution is part of the organization’s attempt to regulate ambulance services across the board.
Currently, there are no regulations in place to ensure ambulances provide the same quality of care.
The resolution was passed at an April 2012 meeting of the Morristown-Hamblen EMS Board of Directors.
Clark Taylor, who chairs the Morristown-Hamblen EMS Board of Directors and also serves as operations chief of the Morristown Fire Department, introduced the resolution to the committee via letter in late June 2012.
“This measure ensures a level of quality assurance that all residents of Hamblen County receive the same higher standard of emergency medical care,” Taylor wrote. “This is not an exclusive franchise proposal. We are not asking for such legislation. We believe that competition is good for the service and the community. We are asking, however, that all ambulance services within the county meet the standards set forth in the resolution.”
If the County Commission passes the resolution next week they will select additional regulatory board members to sit with Bell.
Capps explained the board will oversee the enforcement of the resolution.
In March and April, the board will issue requests for qualifications from all the ambulance services in Hamblen County and review their qualifications.
The board is expected to bring those reviews to the County Commission in May and then the commission will issue certificates to those services that qualify.
The resolution will be effective July 1.
“In an earlier version there were no enforcements or civil penalties, in the revised and approved version there are enforcements,” Capps said. “There are going to be services that will ultimately be excluded from serving in Hamblen County, but we are requiring that each service produce their qualifications.”
Enforcements and civil penalties include failure to comply with regulations “may cause legal action or loss of certificate to operate in Hamblen County,” as well as a $50 civil penalty for each one-way transport of a patient upon the discovery of a violation.
-By Aletheia Davidson, Tribune Staff Writer