KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) —  American Medical Response, or AMR, has been selected by Knox County as its emergency medical service for ambulance response. The decision comes after the county commission heard a report from an independent consulting firm that outlined issues with AMR earlier this month, as the company had been contracted by the county in its current term since 2013.

On Thursday, Oct. 26 the Knox County government shared its selection for an earlier Request For Proposal regarding emergency medical ambulance services. Four companies including AMR had submitted proposals and AMR was selected for a contract.

The terms of the agreement are for an initial five years with one optional five-year extension for a possible total of 10 years. The Knox County Commission will vote to officially approve the contract before the end of the year.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs shared the following statement on Thursday:

We appreciate AMR’s hard work and dedication during the last few decades. I want to thank the panel of experts who reviewed four proposed bids and chose to continue our partnership with AMR. I also want to thank the vendors who applied.

We all know that there have been some significant issues with healthcare and ambulance services – not only here but across the country. We put the current contract out to bid early because we realized, with 12 amendments already, it was becoming a hindrance to EMS services in the county. Though this new contract and its significant updates won’t immediately fix all the problems, we feel like it will be a big step forward.

We still have high wait times at understaffed hospitals, but the new contract should help alleviate some of the associated issues, and, as always, we remain committed to working with all our partners to continually improve emergency access in our community.

Glenn Jacobs, Knox County mayor

Earlier this month, a consultant told Knox County commissioners that the then-current contract with AMR was not financially nor operationally viable, as it had started in 2013 and had had 11 amendments since then; still, it was lacking a market correction as costs went up.

Response time was another weakness highlighted by the consulting firm, as well as staffing issues and performance monitoring.

AMR also shared a statement about the contract.

Knox County ran a fair and focused process and we are thrilled to win the competitive process and be able to continue our long standing service to the citizens here,

The new and much different contract will help address many of the problems plaguing the EMS industry nationwide and we salute the County for taking a different approach.

We will now get to work alongside our other local community first responders and hospital partners across the City and County to align on new EMS programs and innovations under the new proposal and agreement.

This contract will represent a new and exciting time for EMS services in Knox County and we are thrilled to be a part of it. We are excited for all of our current and future first responder employees to be part of this new innovative EMS system for other communities to follow….

American Medical Response

Now that AMR has won the county’s awarded contract, the company will continue its responsibilities for emergency services on Feb. 1, 2024.

According to the company, AMR Knoxville handles approximately 125,000 requests for service per year; providing ALS and BLS transportation, community education and special event staffing within Knox County, where six area hospitals are located.