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Decherd Board keeps Rural/Metro as first call responder

Posted on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 9:44 am

Although A & E Emergency Services had given a strong presentation about what it could do as Decherd’s first responding ambulance provider, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is sticking with Rural/ Metro Corp.

The board unanimously approved last week to continue on with Rural/Metro, which had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, but has since reorganized its debt and says it is well on its way to fi nancial recovery.

The city’s Safety Committee recently reviewed a proposal from A & E Emergency Services LLC, which was vying for the first responder ambulance service contract, held by Rural/Metro Corp, which is Franklin County’s main ambulance provider.

Ben Smith, A & E owner/chief, had told the board at a previous meeting that his company is amply equipped to serve Decherd and can do it more cost effectively.

Nita Jernigan, Rural/Metro market general manager, had said at that her company has had an outstanding track record in serving Franklin County residents and is financially sound and here to stay.

Rural/Metro began its operations in Franklin County in 1996 and its services as the 911 operations first responder were approved in 2009.

In addition to being Franklin County’s contracted ambulance service provider, Rural/Metro has service agreements with cities, including Decherd.

Rural Metro had previously said it was optimistic the company would recover from its fi nancial predicament and continue with regular ambulance service while continuing to cut debt and reorganize under a bankruptcy court’s supervision.

John Karolzak, Rural/Metro chief relations offi cer, said recently that Rural/Metro has taken the necessary steps to restructure its financing and has been doing well since it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings as a reorganized company at the end of 2013.

“We’re meeting all our contract obligations, and things have gone really well during the past three months,” he said. “We’re looking for a bright future.”

Decherd City Administrator Mike Foster had said an agreement was signed by former Decherd Fire Chief Harold Perry and Rural/Metro, stating the ambulance service provider is on first call.

In the meantime, A & E, based in Decherd, had approached Franklin County, Estill Springs and Decherd about making a change to have A & E as the first responder.

Foster had said that Decherd has had no problems with Rural/ Metro’s service, and it and A & E have displayed top-notch professional standards in what they have provided to the community.

“It would be a fairly hard decision to make,” Foster said recently, referring to whether to change ambulance providers. “I’m glad I’m not the one making the decision. I’m glad it’s on the board.”