Shelby County fire officials confident for launch of new ambulance service

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. -- Shelby County Fire officials are working around the clock to launch the new ambulance system for residents in the unincorporated parts of Shelby County, Arlington, Lakeland and Millington. It goes live January 1st.

The new ambulance service will work much like the old one.

“What the public has to do is call 911, that’s really what they need to do is call 911, only when they need us,” said Shelby County Fire Chief Alvin Benson.

They’re getting ready to launch it with the New Year after recently deciding to no longer use American Medical Response.

“It was a challenge but like I said before, we were able to ramp up and do it," said Benson. "I think the administration’s been very clear on that.”

He said in a short amount of time they had to prepare the equipment and employees, but also said having EMS services be fire based is not out of the ordinary. His crews are already trained for pre-hospital treatment, now it’s just a matter of getting patients to the emergency rooms.

County officials said it’ll cost taxpayers and extra $4 to $5 a month for fire fees, but they expect services to be even better.

“We’re already anticipating better response times, so they’ll see no change in service at all. If anything, it’ll be an improved version of what they see already.”

Chief Benson said they just hired about 30 EMS workers and are looking to hire 35 more.

They’ll lease ambulances until their new ones arrive next month and will spend New Year’s Eve in the office.

“We’ll be celebrating up here," said Chief Benson. "We’ll have the streamers maybe and we’ll be singing the Auld Lang Syne song perhaps from my office, but that’ll be fun.”

They decided to stop using AMR after the company said they wanted more money for their services this fall.

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