A proposal for a 501(c)(3) joint venture between Hawkins County Emergency Medical Service and the Hawkins County Commission is one step closer to going before the county legislative body for a vote.
“The commission would be a backing entity,” Chairman Dr. Blaine Jones said. “They’re not going to pay your bills if you all can meet your own bills. They’re going to be there for the startup in case you need an ambulance or so, we can request to see if we can do that.”
Jones said the committee won’t ask the County Commission to give “two or three million dollars.” We’re just asking them to be there that if something was to happen if we need them,” he said.
If you get the county commission, the cities and the citizens behind you, maybe then you can go to Ballad Health and tell them, ‘Look, guys, why are you having convalescent (calls) involving people down here (Hawkins County) going to Sullivan County or whoever and bypassing us?’
Jones said if the convalescent calls were handled by Hawkins County EMS, the organization may be able to cover more transfers from Morristown, and other places to make more money.
According to Jones, benefits for the joint venture for both parties include:
• The people of Hawkins County know that they have an EMS service.
• They will have a fully operational EMS with full staff and ambulances that can make the call.
• Citizens will know that response times will be made a good as it can be.
• Citizens will know that a pre-hospital board will oversee EMS and work in conjunction with Hawkins County 911.
• EMS knows it has the backing of the county, that if something comes up, the commission will have its back.
“Most of our board is pretty excited and they’re right there with it,” said Gerald Moore, a board member with Hawkins County EMS. Over 14 years on the EMS board, Moore commented that the medics with EMS were “tops in the state.”
“They left for two reasons. Basically here, they had a paycheck and insurance,” Moore said. “They had families, and they had to look for a little better benefits package. We lost a bunch to Sullivan County because of pay, and the fact that Sullivan County is on the Tennessee State Consolidated Retirement System.”
Moore also said that Hawkins EMS has an excellent insurance package that is beneficial to their employees. EMS is trying to get pay aligned coming back on there.
“Some of our past paramedics have told me that they could a few dollars an hour pay cut and be closer to home, but what they can’t afford to do is lose that benefit to the TCRS,” Moore said. “(If this joint venture works out), we will be able to keep and retain those we have lost in the past.”
Members of the county commission in the audience reported that they would have an open mind to consider the committee’s ideas.
“I think it’s going to be a good recommendation,” Jones said.
The board will meet again next Wednesday at Hawkins County Mayor’s Office on Washington Street in Rogersville.