AMR transition ongoing 'smoothly'

Owensboro Fire Chief Steve Mitchell

American Medical Response Inc. (AMR) will take over emergency medical transport services in Daviess County at 7 p.m. on June 30.

The transition, officials say, from Louisville-based Procarent-owned Yellow Ambulance to AMR, is ongoing, and residents should expect to begin seeing signs of the new service over the coming weeks. Owensboro and Daviess Fiscal Court approved an agreement with the new medical transport company last month, after Yellow Ambulance announced their abrupt departure in early January.

According to Owensboro Fire Department Chief Steve Mitchell, AMR has hired 32 full-time and roughly 24 part-time employees, most of whom were former Yellow Ambulance personnel. The new company has also purchased all nine ambulances and all of the office equipment and technology Yellow used at its Alsop Lane dispatch and headquarters station. AMR will lease that space for at least two years, but it is expected to move dispatch operations to it Evansville station over the coming months.

"AMR is a tech-friendly company," Mitchell said on Friday. "We've been pleasantly surprised at how advanced some of their equipment and expertise in that area is. We don't expect any problems with them moving dispatch to Evansville at all."

Meanwhile, Mitchell is working with the city and county to ensure AMR is represented on its certificate of need come July 1. The Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services will recognize AMR as the city and county's operating EMS provider and will inspect the company for up-to-date equipment and training before service begins.

Advanced-life support training or re-training is ongoing, Mitchell said. All employees, regardless of their past experience, are required to complete at least 40 hours of training with AMR prior to going on any runs. Most of the employees, he said, seem pleased with their progress but are in the process of adopting the company's data system. Pay and benefits, he said, are comparable or better in some cases to Yellow.

"This has been an extremely smooth transition," Mitchell said. "Fingers crossed, but we've been very, very pleased."

AMR's parent company Global Medical Response is a national leader in emergency medical services via on-the-ground transport, air-evac and private fire suppression. Given just six months to find a suitable alternative, the city and county opted for the company for its global expertise and $150,000 yearly subsidy.

More recently, Owensboro Health has notified the city and county of its intent to abandon a backup ambulance service agreement, and Mitchell said he has been in conversation with leaders about what public or private service could serve as a stopgap until that issue is resolved diplomatically or in the courts.

In a worst-case scenario, he said, the fire department may be able to provide the service on a temporary basis, if, for whatever reason, AMR service were to no longer be available.

Judge-Executive Al Mattingly on Friday said he is still waiting for Owensboro Health to engage public officials in a dialogue, but that, if he must, he will recommend seeking third-party operators in other counties or states.

Austin Ramsey, 270-691-7302,, Twitter: @austinrramsey

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