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CARTER COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – A local EMS director says he will be forced to shut down half of his rescue squad stations if county commissioners don’t give them what they need.
According to Carter County EMS director, Terry Arnold, what they need is more than half a million dollars from the county.
As it stands, the Carter County budget committee has allotted the Carter County Rescue Squad $170,000, the exact same budget they operated on last year.
Arnold says that is not enough anymore, and if the commissioners don’t see that then in the coming weeks, he is shutting down operations in both Roan Mountain, and Hampton.
It was news local residents were not happy to hear.
Carol White lives in Hampton, and told us about a Christmas Eve several years back she will never forget.
“She put her cane out in front of her thinking it was level ground, and it went down,” said White.
White says when her grandmother fell, she was in desperate need of medical help.
White says because the Carter County rescue squad was just around the corner they were able to get to her grandmother quickly.
“When we called them, they were here in two minutes. It made a big difference, my grandmother was in her 80’s,” said White.
Its stories like these Carter County rescue squad director Terry Arnold says have been flooding his voicemail all week.
He says people in Roan Moutain and Hampton are worried they will no longer have the services they need.
“Thats the biggest concern we all have, is time its going to take us to get there,” said Arnold.
Arnold says they have been teetering on the edge of this breaking point for the past few years.
This year, they decided to ask for an additional $375,000 to operate.
“Pharmaceutical supplies have tripled if not quatripled. An ambulance cost twice as much as it did 6, 7, 8 years ago,” said Arnold.
Not everyone agrees.
A budget committee member asked the County Technical Assistance Service to analyze the budget, to see if the $375,000 Arnold requested is warranted.
The result, CTAS found that in part, “Additional funds to assist with the deficit does not appear to be justified.”
They also went on to say “Hiring additional personnel to staff additional units does not appear to be justified at this time.”
We asked Arnold what he thought about the study.
“I cannot comment at this time,” said Arnold.
Budget committee chair Sonja Culler voted to keep the EMS budget status quo, but not because of the study.
She’s worried about the taxpayers.
“It would take four and a half cents to increase it to the amount they want, unless we raise the tax increase 4.5 cents they say they are going to shut them down, so it puts us into the hot seat so to speak,” said Culler.
The public hearing on this budget will be held Tuesday morning at 9am at the Carter County courthouse, county commissioners will vote to finalize the budget immediately after the public hearing.
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