County wants their own ambulance services

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Shelby County mayor wants the county to soon be running their own ambulance services.

The county administration will present their opinion to the County Commission in a special meeting on Thursday.

"Well I think what we have to do is make lemonade out of lemons. We wish we weren't in this position but we are," said Shelby County Commissioner Heidi Shafer.

It still needs approval by the Shelby County Commission but come January 1 the Shelby County Fire Department could be responsible for running ambulances for those who live in the county.

"We looked at the bids. We looked at what it cost us to provide the service and we can provide the service at a lower cost."

Speaking to WREG by phone because he was on his way to Nashville, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell told me having the fire department absorb ambulance services is the best option.

But Commissioner Shafer said she wants to make sure the commission doesn't make any knee-jerk reactions when it comes to approving the change.

"I wanna make sure that if we do this, if we bring it in house that we have assurances that our call times are going to be the same, because we were able to contractually hold AMR to those response times. How are we going to make sure that happens in the new system?"

Luttrell said response times will be the same, if not better. He also would not provide any figures for how much the switch would save the county, or how many personnel will be needed.

Shafer said those are some of the issues she'll be bringing up in Thursday's meeting.

"I wanna make sure there's some protections built in. That they're not gonna come back to us in 6 months, a year or two years saying, 'oh well we thought we could do it with this money but it's really gonna take 20 more people riding on all our full-time benefits.'I just wanna put some good conditions in there that will protect that rate payers and tax payers."