June 25, 2016
Sunday Conversation with Pete Quinones
Ann Hardie from the Atlanta Journal Constitution
12:00 a.m. Saturday, June 25, 2016 Metro Atlanta / State news
Pete Quinones was nowhere near the Cobb County student who collapsed during P.E. class. Luckily, the medical device that Quinones’ company donated to the school that was used to charge the student’s heart was. MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service, founded by Quinones in 2000, responds to 9-1-1 calls in Cobb and Paulding counties. The company contributes a lot more than showing up for emergencies. Cobb public health officials estimate that in the past year, Quinones and his employees have donated 2,500 volunteer hours, $250,000 and millions of dollars of care that patients couldn’t pay for. The company is making sure that Cobb schools have and are trained to use defibrillators. One of those devices saved that student’s life. At the urging of the Cobb health department, Quinones has been recognized by the Healthcare Georgia Foundation for his volunteer efforts.
Q: Did you always want to go into health care?
A: I never thought I would get into health care. My father was a physician so, lo and behold, I sort of followed him.
Q: Is an emphasis on volunteerism a core part of your company?
A: Our mission is not only to deliver excellence in patient care and customer service, but also to give back to the community. We donate a lot of time with the Boy Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs and MUST Ministries. Our employees go to events to treat people if someone gets hurt. They teach people CPR. With Safe Kids Cobb County, we show parents how to properly install car seats. We are very involved with the American Heart Association and I sit on multiple boards. We actually give a paid day off for people to volunteer somewhere.
Q: What does that do for your employees?
A: Most of our people got into this line of work to serve others. This gives them a feeling of giving back.
Q: You provide millions of dollars for uncompensated care. Why?
A: Being a 911 provider, you take the nonpaying patients along with the paying patients. In this business, you just treat.
Q: Your partnership with the Cobb health department began in 2005 with Hurricane Rita. Is that right?
A: We had all these patients from New Orleans being flown into Dobbins Air base to be triaged. We would transport them to hospitals all over the metro area. We moved over 1,500 patients in four days. I hope that never has to be duplicated. On the other side, it showed great teamwork where everyone came together.
Q: Can you talk about your volunteer efforts with schools?
A: We donate and service defibrillators throughout the community, mostly to schools. We also train folks on how to use them. The Georgia Legislature passed a mandate that all kids need to be trained in CPR to graduate. It is a great idea that we had been pushing for a long, long time. But there is no money to do it. We do it at no charge.
Q: Were you surprised when you were recognized for your efforts?
A: I am very honored. I like to fly under the radar. The people in the health department are the heroes, quite frankly. They do so much for the community when they have a tough time with their budget. They are a great bunch of people.