ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County EMS is requesting $90,000 from the Hawkins County Commission in 2018-19, $30,000 of which would go toward the purchase of a new ambulance.
The County Commission has traditionally budgeted $60,000 toward its overall ambulance service contribution.
When Church Hill EMS folded in 2016, each service was receiving a contribution of $30,000 annually from the county.
Even though HCEMS began serving the whole county, it wasn’t until this past March that the County Commission agreed to give the agency the $30,000 that CHEMS had previously received.
For the 2018-19 fiscal year, HCEMS is requesting that full $60,000 contribution, which was reflected in the proposed budget draft, plus another $30,000 to purchase a new ambulance.
HCEMS Director Jason Murrell told commissioners during Tuesday’s 2018-19 budget hearings that he has one new ambulance that was purchased in mid-2017 that already has 56,000 miles on it.
Another ambulance that was involved in an accident will be returned refurbished next month, but many of HCEMS’ ambulances have already exceeded 200,000 miles.
HCEMS currently has six ambulances operating 24/7.
“We do have some that are continuously tearing up,” Murrell told the commission.
A staff shortage has been one of HCEMS’ biggest problems, forcing staff to work overtime, which drove up expenses.
Murrell said the agency recently hired two new employees and a good prospect who may start in June, which would leave HCEMS short just one employee.
“Hawkins EMS became the county’s sole provider of ambulance service in August of 2016, which doubles the call volume, number of employees and equipment. The men and women of Hawkins County EMS are serving the citizens day in and day out, in their time of need, and in some unimaginable, and sometimes dangerous conditions. They are stretched thin at times, but they continue to do the best job they can no matter the hour of day.”
Commissioner Bob Palmer, who also chairs the E911 Board, asked Murrell if he’s having trouble serving the call volume.
“As far as I know, we’ve not turned over any calls,” Murrell said.
“Are you sure about that?” asked Palmer.
“If there’s any, it’s very, very few. Grainger County, Sullivan County, and Greene County have been requested to pull to the county line, in case there was an emergency call that we needed them for. ... We have no documentation showing that a call was turned over that I’m aware of.”
The Hawkins County Commission will meet again Friday to consider approval of all new budget requests.