In 2017 there were 8,882 calls to dispatch in Tipton County for an ambulance. A year later that figure increased to 9,375.
County Executive Jeff Huffman has been watching the statistics for a while and has seen the number rising.
To combat that the Tipton County Legislature voted unanimously on Jan. 14 to amend it’s ambulance contract with MedicOne, which came in effect at the beginning of 2018 and calls for four ambulances to be stationed in the county. The amendment will change that figure to five.
“Our daytime numbers have increased so we believe there’s a necessary need for a fifth ambulance in Tipton County during the daytime hours,” Huffman said. “Clearly we think the ambulance service can provide better service if we go to five ambulances in the county sitting here rather than four.”
Huffman said the current contract with MedicOne costs the county $130,000 per year. Money was allocated in the 2018-19 budget for the possibility of another ambulance. Exactly how much more the extra ambulance will cost the county will be negotiated between Huffman and MedicOne.
Rural Metro, the ambulance service the county contracted with before MedicOne, stationed five ambulances in the county.
Under the current contract two ambulances are stationed at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Tipton, one at the Atoka Fire Department and one at the Drummonds Fire Department.
When the need arises MedicOne is contracted to provide ambulances from Shelby County. Huffman said that means as many as 11 ambulances are sometimes serving Tipton County.
Henry Posey, who is in his fifth year as Atoka’s fire chief, said at least five ambulances are definitely necessary in the county.
“It’s needed, in fact, it’s probably overdue,” he said. “This county is big enough that it needs five and you could probably justify six or seven. One bad car wreck could take two or three.”
He said there are days when a calls comes and there is not an ambulance immediately available. When an ambulance is dispatched from Memphis he said it typically takes 30 minutes and can take as long as an hour.
“There are so many calls, especially during the summer time, it’s not unusual to run out of units,” he said.
Number of ambulance calls