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Carter County Budget Committee tells Rescue Squad to renegotiate a contract

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Update - May 5th, 2013

Monday's Carter County Budget meeting was heated at the committee and Carter County Rescue Squad attempted to agree on a possible contract.  After nearly two hours the committee told the rescue squad to take 14 days to renegotiate a new contract.

According to Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey, many on the county commission believe that without the rescue squad the sheriffs office and county fire departments can fulfill the duties.  However Mayor Humphrey says those departments, although willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, just can't do it.

Mayor Humphrey says Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathis told him that the sheriff's office simply does not have the staff or resources to fill in for the rescue squad.  Mayor Humphrey also says in a meeting with county fire officials, they shared the same concerns.

One option on that was on the table prior to Monday's budget meeting, a one year $225,000 contract with the rescue squad.  The commission also discussed opening the contract out to bid.  However, Mayor Humphrey says that simply can't be done.

"We do not have the time to go through that bid process now.  There is no way that we could put out the rips and get that information back to have something in place by July 1st," said Mayor Humphrey.

Mayor Humphrey says research he conducted shows if the service is placed out to bid, it will cost 2 to 3 times more than the $225,000 contract.

Rescue squad Director Terry Arnold says in the fall, his department asked for a 4 year contract renewal in Carter County and in the City of Elizabethton.  City of Elizabethton officials agreed to the contract.  The county did not, which led to Monday's budget meeting.

In the budget meeting some commissioners said the rescue squad is very much needed and the people in their districts feel their tax dollars pay for it.  One commissioner even said that this contract renewal process has gone on for too long and the only reason for that seems to be because there is bad blood between some commission members and the rescue squad.

The commissioners did agree on one thing however, that there will be a rescue squad type of service for the county.  Again, the budget committee recommended the rescue squad take 14 days to renegotiate a contract with the county.

The next Carter County Commission meeting is Monday May 20th.




Imagine having a medical emergency and dialing 911, but you're told no one can respond. It's an incredible scary thought, but for residents in Carter County, this thought could materialize starting this summer.

As is stands right now no deal has been made between the county and its rescue squad.

If you live in the city limits of Elizabethton, a four year deal has been made with the rescue squad. Last Monday the rescue squad made its final offer to the county asking for $225,000 for a one year contract. This would include all transportation, rescues and more. Sunday News Channel 11 caught up with locals who say this decision is a no brainier, including Mary Timmons, whose 10-year-old daughter has Cerebral Palsy and a seizure disorder.

"My daughter has had to be LifeFlighted twice already and if she didn't get the ambulance there within 5 or 10 minutes you know her seizures could kill her if she didn't have the proper medication that the ambulance can give her right away," said Timmons.

 Patsy Dumic, who had to call the rescue squad last year, agrees, "If they only knew how many old people that needed them including the young people and the children they wouldn't do this, they wouldn't do this. They would fun it someway that we would have a rescue squad. It is very scary."

Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey said no other provider could do the level of service the Carter County Rescue Squad provides, at that cost.

As it stands right now, as of July 1, the rescue squad will only cover the town of Elizabethton, but remember things could change between now and then.

There will be a budget meeting Monday, May 13, at 5:15 P.M. at the Carter County Courthouse. The rescue squad is hoping the county will take the deal it presents.

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