(WBIR-Blount County) An eighth of all Blount County EMS workers walked off the job Monday, as they change to new positions with another service.
Rural/Metro Ambulance Service is the contracted emergency responders for the county. On Monday, nine workers, including then-general manager Ron Parker, left the service for a new company.
"I love helping people and the service part of it. That's my drive," Parker said inside the offices of another ambulance service, Priority Ambulances.
It started when Priority Ambulances offered positions to workers, like Parker. If they take the job, they would be terminated from their then-current positions.
"The steps for the event that you work for the competitor. It says in that point in time, you made that decision, you need to leave," said Parker.
This means fewer ambulance workers. The loss of six workers is equivalent to three working road crews for Rural Metro.
That meant scrambling to fill the spots -- in case the worst was to happen.
"There are three shifts, and not only are there full-time professionals, they're backed up by a number of part-time people as well," said Jerry Harnish with Rural/Metro.
Now the workers are at Priority, which is planning to expand to Blount County in the future.
"We're doing training and in-service education and all that kind of stuff -- to prepare for taking this concept," Parker said.
Rural/Metro has since filled most of the positions, but leaders say walking off could have been a potential hazard.
"There are people that want to do emergency all over the community -- frequently, they want the opportunity," Harnish added.
Parker said it was not his intention to cause any problems; he just said he had to take the opportunity with the new company.
Altogether, Rural/Metro has about 70 emergency workers for Blount County.