Three companies bid for Knox County ambulance services contract

Three companies bid for Knox County ambulance services contract

Posted:
We have a very good product we can bring to Knox County to improve the care and ambulance service," said Brad Chase, general manager of American Medical Response. We have a very good product we can bring to Knox County to improve the care and ambulance service," said Brad Chase, general manager of American Medical Response.
Rural Metro has contracted ambulance services for the county since 1984. Rural Metro has contracted ambulance services for the county since 1984.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Several companies are submitting their bids to handle ambulance services in Knoxville.  

For years, whenever someone in Knox County called 911, a Rural-Metro ambulance responded.

But soon, Knox County's contract with the company will expire and commissioners will have the option of retaining Rural Metro or picking someone new.

Three companies submitted Request for Proposals (RFP) with the Knox County Purchasing Department Thursday afternoon.

Rural Metro, American Medical Response and the Falck Corporation submitted proposals. At stake is an ambulance service contract worth millions of dollars.  

Rural Metro has contracted ambulance services for the county since 1984.

"Most of our managers have been here over 20 years. The fire department has been since 1977. We know and love this community. We're very experienced with the EMS system here," said Rob Webb, division manager for Rural Metro.  

Rural Metro is competing with the American Medical Response, the same company it beat out during the last contract cycle in 2002. AMR already provides some services for non-emergencies in the county.  

"We've been in Knox County for about a year. We have a very good product we can bring to Knox County to improve the care and ambulance service," said Brad Chase, general manager of American Medical Response.  

Both companies face competition from a third company.

Falck USA, part of The Falck Corporation based in Copenhagen, Denmark, is the largest ambulance company in the world. The company started operating in the United States in 2010.

"It's a large metropolitan 911 system, and so it's 46,000 responses a year. It's a pretty substantial contract in the industry," said Michael Collins, director of operations Falck USA.

Officials hope the process will be a lot less controversial than the last one.  

In 2002, a panel recommended awarding the contract to AMR over Rural Metro.  

At the time, a number of county commissioners questioned the bids as well as the evaluation committee's analysis  

"Quite frankly, I think there was a lot of concern that the process was improper before," said Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs.  

Briggs said the process is under more scrutiny this time and ambulance companies aren't allowed to have contact with city employees or elected officials.  

A panel made up of seven committee members is expected to make a decision in time for Knox County Commission's December meeting.  

At that point, commissioners will vote to approve or deny the recommendation.  

The new contract will be good for five years with the potential for two additional five-year renewal periods.  

The county won't subsidize any money this time. In the current contract, the county gives about $50,000 per month to Rural Metro.

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