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Hutto: No jobs at risk from EMS plan

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MT. JULIET -- None of the current employees of Wilson Emergency Management Agency (WEMA) need fear losing their jobs if Mt. Juliet city commissioners vote to contract with Medic One to provide Mt. Juliet’s primary emergency medical services, according to Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto.

“There are no jobs on the line,” Hutto said. “We are always looking to gain personnel, and we have other areas in the county that need to be covered.”

Wilson County Commissioner Bernie Ash, chair of the county’s Emergency Management Services Committee, agreed.

“We won’t lose any jobs,” Ash said. “Some people may be moved around. We’re shorthanded as it is.”

Both the county mayor and WEMA Director Joey Cooper attended both “town hall” meetings held in Mt. Juliet this week to get public input on the possibility of the city contracting with Medic One, and Hutto said he sees no reason why WEMA can’t continue to work with Mt. Juliet firefighters and Medic One crews.

“We will continue to work out of Mt. Juliet Fire Station 3 and offer mutual aid to the city,” he said, referring to the city-owned firehouse at 69 E. Hill Street, behind Mt. Juliet City Hall. Currently occupied solely by WEMA, the facility also will house the city’s second fire station, which the city Fire Department will call Station No. 2, beginning in October. 

Hutto also pointed out that there are several pockets of county residents within Mt. Juliet in areas that have not been annexed by the city. Those areas will still need to be covered by WEMA.

Of course, it’s possible that the county would no longer need to maintain a presence at the city’s Station No. 1 on Belinda Road in Providence, Hutto said – and if the need for an EMS crew based on Belinda Road no longer existed, the crew could protect some other areas of the county, he said.

“Wilson County is one of a very few areas where rural sections of the county have 24/7 professional coverage,” the county mayor said, noting “70 percent of Tennessee counties have only volunteers in country areas.”

Hutto did say that volunteers do a great job in those areas, like Watertown, that are served by volunteers.

“We cherish our volunteers,” Hutto said, pointing out that not only is Watertown a volunteer department, it is self-supporting. “They have fish fries once a month to raise the money they need,” he said.

Hutto also pointed out that emergency services in Mt. Juliet and the rest of the county are growing.

“Just a few years ago, Mt. Juliet didn’t have a fire department, and there was only one ambulance there,” he said.

Likewise, Ash said, “Mt. Juliet has done a tremendous job of stepping up to the plate with their fire department.”

Ash also pointed out that the county recently opened a new station on North U.S. 231 that serves both Lebanon and the north end of the county, and that the county plans to open a station at Norene to cover the southeast section of the county.

“I don’t see how this could hurt us,” he said, referring to Medic One. “We need all the help we can get.”

Hutto said the way he sees it, Medic One is offering Mt. Juliet some free services. “It can’t hurt anything to at least hear what they have to offer,” he said. “The only concern I see is, I don’t think they have offered solo 911 service before.”

“Town hall” meetings were held about Medic One at two locations in Mt. Juliet this week: Monday night at Abundant Life Assembly of God, and Tuesday night at the new Joy Church building on Lebanon Road.

After the first “town hall” meeting had adjourned, Medic One CEO Jim Reeves addressed questions about his private EMS agency’s staying power by confirming that he offered to have Medic One post a $100,000 performance bond that it would forfeit if it doesn’t stay in the city at least five years.

“That’s just our response to the fearmongers,” he said.

Another, related concern city commissioners have expressed has been the need to verify Medic One’s financial stability, which Reeves addressed during his presentations by showing slides of his Dallas-based agency’s consistent growth in the states it serves –Texas, Mississippi, Illinois and Tennessee.

Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin also said Medic One has offered to let City Finance Officer John Rossmaier go over Medic One’s books with the private EMS agency’s chief financial officer, which would provide assurances about Medic One’s resources without opening its records for its competitors to see.

Mt. Juliet officials are scheduled to hear one more presentation by Medic One next week at Monday night’s City Commission meeting, and possibly to make a decision about the issue at that time.

Correspondent Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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employees, Medic One, Mt. Juliet, Wilson County Emergency Management Agency
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