SHARE 9 5 COMMENTMORE

Rural/Metro Corporation announced Tuesday that it plans to formally emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the next few weeks.

The company, which provides ambulance and fire service in Knox County and some surrounding counties, filed for Chapter 11 in August, when officials said they would use the process as a time to restructure financially and cut its debt by approximately 50 percent.

According to a press release, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has approved the company's Plan of Reorganization.

"The Court's confirmation of our plan is a major milestone for Rural/Metro, and we look forward to completing our financial restructuring and emerging as a stronger and more competitive company," said Scott A. Bartos, president and chief executive officer of Rural/Metro. "We will emerge with 50 percent less debt, greater capital flexibility and the resources to continue investing in patient care. I want to express my gratitude to our business partners and valued employees for their patience and support throughout this process, and I look forward to an exciting and prosperous future."

Rural/Metro said their local operation in 21 states and nearly 700 communities have were unaffected by the corporate restructuring.

In Knox County, Rural/Metro of East Tennessee Regional Director Jerry Harnish said that ambulances have been experiencing some of the highest county contract compliance rates, and it has been business as usual across its service areas in Knox, Blount, Loudon, Polk and Franklin counties.

"Rural/Metro is dedicated to providing the highest-level pre-hospital care to the residents that we serve, and this new chapter for our company will allow us to continue that commitment to clinical excellence," Harnish said.

The company said it plans to invest $40 million to add more than 70 new ambulances, six fire trucks and equipment, including cardiac monitors and stretchers, to operations across the country, as well as develop new billing and accounting systems.

Rural/Metro said it recently added seven new state-of-the-art ambulances to its 54-ambulance fleet in Knox County, representing a $910,000 investment in updating Knox County's emergency system. In addition, they said another ambulance hs been ordered.

"Residents here in East Tennessee can expect to see new equipment and vehicles in their areas over the 12 months," Harnish said. "Our reorganization is great news for our company and great news for the communities we serve, as we invest in capital enhancements across our service areas."

SHARE 9 5 COMMENTMORE