This article originally appeared in the Knoxville News Sentinel on Dec. 31, 2015.
By Hugh Willet
A year after Priority Ambulance was awarded the exclusive contract for emergency ambulance service in Loudon County, analysis of response times shows significant improvement, county officials said this week.
“We’re very pleased with the results of the analysis,” Loudon County Mayor Buddy Bradshaw said.
Response times have improved by 50 percent over the same time period by the previous provider, according to data prepared by Priority with the help of county public safety and health officials.
The numbers indicate Priority’s ambulances are on the scene in fewer than five minutes approximately 18 percent to 23 percent of the time. Response times of more than 25 minutes have decreased to fewer than 1 percent of calls, a decrease of 50 percent from the previous provider, the data shows.
The improvements are the result of careful analysis of staffing data, according to Dennis Rowe, Priority’s director of operations. Based on the data, Priority moved the Lenoir City and city of Loudon ambulance stations for better coverage of the county system, he said.
‘We kept tweaking the system using mapping, historical data and statistical analysis,” he said.
Priority has also spearheaded the creation of a countywide emergency medical services council, with membership that includes the Fort Loudoun Medical Center chief administrative officer and emergency department director, local fire and police chiefs, the Loudon County sheriff, and select members of the Loudon County Commission.
The council reviews emergency response data on a quarterly basis, Rowe said.
Bradshaw said he has been keeping a close eye on the performance of the county ambulance service through regular review of response data and meetings with Priority management.
Priority has also been active in the local schools, Bradshaw said. Free CPR training and the installation of automated externaldefibrillators have been implemented at high schools in the county. Priority’s nonemergency transport service has also been increasing, Rowe said.
Bradshaw said although the county commission has been hesitant to make changes that would put Priority in the position of the exclusive provider of nonemergency transports in the county, the company’s reputation for quality service has been growing during the past year.
“I expect they will continue to increase their share of the nonemergency transport,” he said.