Unicoi Co. Sheriff says not enough ambulances in county, takes concerns to social media


UNICOI COUNTY, TN (WJHL)- A Tri-Cities region sheriff is pleading for help after he says people are waiting too long for an ambulance during emergencies.

Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley posted his concerns on social media Tuesday.

Medic One Medical Response is the current ambulance provider for Unicoi County, but right they can only provide two full time ambulances for the whole county.

Sheriff Hensley spoke with News Channel 11 on Tuesday and said he feels those ambulances alone are not enough.

“It’s something that needs to be addressed, and it needs to be addressed immediately,” Sheriff Hensley said.

Tuesday, Sheriff Hensley even took to his Facebook page to express his concerns, posting this status:

“Citizens of Unicoi County , as your Sheriff I am informing you we have a serious problem concerning Ambulance Service . There is not enough Ambulances here to meet the needs of our county. There is documented evidence on several occasions we have called for an Ambulance , and there was not one available in Unicoi, Carter, or Washington Counties. The EMS workers we have do an excellent job. Yesterday there was an accident near Wal Mart with injuries, no ambulance available I want to commend the Unicoi Fire Department and off duty EMS persons who responded and stabilize the patients until an Ambulance was available. It is not my job to negotiate Ambulance Contracts , BUT it is my job to inform the Legislative bodies of this county & cities , as well as the citizens when a serious safety or security problem exist. You have been informed”

Sheriff Hensley also showed us 14 9-1-1 calls he pulled from the past two months where no ambulances were available.

Stacy Wigand with Medic One explained that sometimes there is a delay in getting an ambulance to a scene, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t one available.

“Sometimes its not that no ambulance is available, its just that there is a delay for an ambulance getting in route, they are at the hospital waiting to get a bed, to offload a patient,” Wigand said.

Wigand said bottom line they are in need of another ambulance.

“I think that realistically, three ambulances are good,” Wigand said.

Sheriff Hensley said he hopes they problem will be resolved sooner rather than later because when it comes to emergencies, every second matters.

“The last thing that I want to do is tell a family their loved one is passed away because there is not an ambulance in this county to take them to the hospital,” Sheriff Hensley said.

Sheriff Hensley said he spoke to the CEO of Medic One Medical Response on Tuesday who said he is coming to Unicoi County in the coming weeks.

The CEO told Sheriff Hensley he hopes to negotiate with county leaders to get more ambulances on the road.

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