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UCHRA Public Transportation Looking At EMS Agreement

UCHRA considering agreements with local EMS departments to ensure that residents can receive transportation services during extreme weather.

Executive Director Mark Farley said during the early January storm, UCHRA Public Transportation did not have vehicles equipped to travel safely on local roads. He said many residents missed medical appointments without the service.

“It could be a number of different things when natural disasters happen where we can’t get people to dialysis,” Farley said. “You know, does it start out as an emergency? No. But the longer it goes, those turn into emergency situations and I think there’s sort of a gray area.”

Farley said an agreement could function similarly to Automatic Aid Agreements between counties. Public Transportation Director Holly Montooth said the department at least needs help getting residents to the main road in the case of severe weather. She said one Cumberland County resident missed a full week of dialysis.

“This one week, it was just one of those situations where we had people who went a full seven days,” Montooth said. “At that point, we’re just trying to do our due diligence to ensure that we’re doing all that we can.”

Montooth said a Warren County resident was taken to and from her dialysis appointment by Warren County Sheriff Jackie Matheny. She said a more formal agreement would create a more clear system during these events. Jackson County Mayor Randy Heady said the department called a rescue squad in one Upper Cumberland county for help and was denied.

Farley said the board may reach out to the EMS Directors Association and try to put a plan together. Heady said the association is very proactive, and he plans to attend EMS Day on the Hill in March to continue to grow that relationship.

“I know it doesn’t seem like it means a lot, but it really, really does,” Heady said.

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