WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Washington County-Johnson City EMS is banking on county funding so it can eliminate 24-hour shifts for its four busiest ambulances, which Chief Dan Wheeley says will result in quicker response times and better patient care.
“We don’t need as many ambulances on at night as we do during the day, so there’s peak times that, we cover that peak time, but we cover it for a whole 24 hours right now,” the chief said. “It will improve response times, it will reduce medical errors, the medics will be more alert and just focused on their job than they are after getting woke up at three o’clock in the morning after running all day.”
Chief Wheeley says Johnson City already approved its half of the $160,000 needed to hire three full-time employees and switch four crews to 12-hour shifts, but that approval is contingent on Washington County’s support, which he says leaders have deferred to the county’s budget committee. The chief says EMS has solely run 24-hour shifts for almost 40 years. He says the change would also improve safety for drivers who often transport patients long distances.
The chief says he plans on reaching out to the budget committee chairman this month to get the item on the agenda.
Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge says the commission deferred the request due to lack of revenue for recurring expenses.
“The intent is to monitor county revenue and expenses for (three) or (four) months of the FY18 fiscal year and see if there is an opportunity to reallocate existing dollars, as I am not optimistic there will be new revenue available,” the mayor said.
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