Unicoi County Commission moves forward on ambulance contract requirements

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 25, 2019 at 11:16 PM

ERWIN — The Unicoi County Commission on Monday authorized the preparation of a request for proposals for the purchase and installation of an emergency radio frequency required by its new contract with MedicOne Medical Response.

In a discussion of the request, Commissioner Marie Rice said Robert Adams with the Unicoi County Firefighters Association has advised her the association will donate a unused radio tower needed for installation of the new frequency. Rice said Adams estimated the cost of frequency and its installation at $8,300 and the time required for the installation at 60 to 90 days.

In December, Adams told the commission the firefighters association will no longer allow MedicOne to use its frequency after the new contract becomes effective on April 1 because of difficulties firefighters have had with MedicOne’s past use of the frequency.

Commission Vice Chairman Jamie Harris told the commission Monday that an additional $5,000 will be needed for the purchase and installation of a new console and other equipment needed for the MedicOne communications and required under the new county contract with MedicOne.

Unicoi County 911 has previously advised the commission it will need additional dispatchers to handle MedicOne calls under the new contract. 911 Director Travis Chandler told the commission Monday he does not know if the district will cover the cost of the new console.

Commissioner John Mosley, who serves as chairman of the commission’s ambulance committee, made the motion to approve preparation of the request for proposals on the frequency and Harris seconded the motion. The board approved the motion by a vote of 8 to 0 with Commissioner Todd Wilcox absent.

An informal survey of six of the eight commissioners present for Monday’s meeting revealed that none of the six were aware that the town of Erwin was exploring other options for ambulance service inside the town limits although several said they had heard that “rumor.”

Asked about the possibility of MedicOne pulling out of Unicoi County if Erwin opts out of the contract, Commission Chairman Loren Thomas, whose wife is employed by MedicOne, said “they probably will.”

In other business Monday, the commission voted to issue $200,000 capital outlay note for the purchase of four police cruisers, bulletproof vests and new surveillance cameras for the Sheriff’s Department.

The note was approved by a vote of 7 to 2 with Rice and Commissioner Jason Harris opposed. Prior to the vote, Rice questioned whether the the public had been given adequate notice of the commission’s consideration of the new debt since its was not added to Monday night’s agenda until Friday morning, Feb. 22.

Mosley, who seconded Jamie Harris’ motion to approve the new debt, told Rice the purchases involve some time constraints and  he commission had “not broken any laws” in its three-day notice of the addition to their agenda.

Correction: This story has been revised to the correct the name of Commission Vice Chairman Jamie Harris who was incorrectly referred to as Jamie Rice in a previous version of the story. 

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