Knox County leaders ask AMR questions about upcoming ambulance contract

County commissioners ask AMR spokespersons about what expectations would be and how they can approve ahead of a deciding vote later this month.
County Commissioners ask AMR spokespersons about what expectations would be and how they can approve ahead of a deciding vote later this month.
Published: Nov. 2, 2023 at 10:56 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 8:56 PM EST
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Commissioners discuss ambulance response contract for Knox County

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - AMR is the recommended ambulance provider in Knox County after a committee selected their bid as their preferred option less than two weeks ago.

Thursday night, county leaders had the chance to ask AMR and the Knox County Health Department questions that they had on their minds regarding AMR’s performance and expectations.

“I don’t accept that we can just blame everything on COVID and staffing and say we are where we are,” said county commissioner Larsen Jay.

Jay, along with other commissioners, voiced concerns about the time it takes for AMR to respond to a call for service.

“If we’re late to one, we’re late to too many,” said Joshua Spencer who is with AMR’s parent company Global Medical Response.

Another concern from county commissioners is that on average, AMR has to sit outside local hospitals for nearly an hour while they wait to have their patient taken inside and treated.

According to Spencer, Knox County also presents geographical challenges when it comes to response times.

“One of the greatest challenges simply is traffic. I-40 at 5 o clock in the afternoon which is the main thoroughfare through Knox County, there are times when it doesn’t matter if you have your lights on or siren you may not be able to make it in a reasonable time frame,” said Spencer.

While Spencer said all of the questions about how AMR will improve and what their operations will look like with a new contract, he went on to add that these concerns being addressed over and over also send mixed signals to potential employees looking to work for them in East Tennessee.

“At the end of the day, it’s somewhat a distraction to our employers and staff that we need to not focus on worrying about this anymore so we can focus on worrying on what we’re here to focus on which is providing care for Knox County,” said Spencer.

Others like county commissioner Kim Frazier wanted to hear from local hospitals about their wait times, but county leaders said that the county has no authority over hospitals.

Right now AMR is the recommended bidder for the ambulance contract in the county.

The Knox County Commission will vote officially on this decision in late November.