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October 1, 2018
A Changing of the Guard

JAMES SWIFT/THE DAILY TRIBUNE NEWS

BY NEIL B. MCGAHEE

Shortly after 8 a.m., a series of tones followed by a stoic message blared over the Bartow County Emergency Services radio, announcing the end of the county's Emergency Medical Services

"Bartow County EMS stations 1,2,3,6 and 10. As of Oct. 1, 2018, the county EMS will be retired. Thank you to all the men and women who have served this community."

In a matter of minutes, it was over. MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service officially replaced Bartow EMS as the county's 911 ambulance service provider. But there was hardly time for tears.

Metro's first day was a busy one according to Metro Atlanta president and CEO Pete Quinones.

"The first day was a lot busier than normal," Quinones said. "We handled 18 calls in the first 10 hours."

He said it helped that more than three-quarters of the paramedics and emergency medical technicians had transitioned to the new provider.

"All Bartow County EMS employees were offered a job," Quinones said. "And about 75 percent of those that applied are coming over."

The decision to privatize was made in mid-summer when Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor, citing losses of more than $2 million in the 2017 fiscal year and $13.5 million over the last 10 years, made what he described as "the most gut-wrenching" decision of his political career.

Quinones said the most important thing now is reducing response times.

"We are collecting data from every emergency call we receive," he said. "We will assess that data and learn when and where the call came in, then decide where to place our assets so we can lower response times." 

Marietta-based MetroAtlanta began business in 2001 with 10 employees and two ambulances.

 Eighteen years later, the company boasts a 50,000-square-foot headquarters with hub stations in five counties, a fleet of about 130 vehicles and more than 600 employees.

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