Bedford County Ambulance ServiceIn 1966 the local funeral homes gave notice to county officials they would no longer be able to provide transportation for the sick and injured due to cost and demand. Blackmore funeral home did continue operating until the end of April 1970.
After studying the need for ambulance service in Bedford County, the city and county officials formed the Shelbyville Bedford County Ambulance Authority. The new ambulance service began operating May 1, 1970 in a mobile home at the corner of Lane Parkway and Spring Street just across from the Shelbyville Police Department. The first ambulances purchased were “used” 1966 and 1968 Cadillac style ambulances. In 1973 the service purchased its first modular style ambulance from Road safe Emergency Vehicle of Shelbyville. In 1974 a new building was erected beside the hospital to house the Ambulance Authority.
The original employees were made up of eight men trained in first aid; 2 were nurses and one service director. The Ambulance Service used the American Red Cross “40 hour” First Aid course as its standard of care prior to the State of Tennessee regulating ambulance service in 1972. In the early years of operation, the ambulance service would hire employees “as drivers” until they could attend an Emergency Medical Technician course.
In 1983, the county commission took sole responsibility for the ambulance service and changed the name to Bedford County Emergency Medical Services.
In 1985, the Department began upgrading its level of care. The early goals were to hire a Paramedic for each shift and to provide Automatic External Defibrillators for the EMT’s to use during cardiac arrest calls.
In the early 1990’s the Department took the next step to continue progress by archiving an A rated “all ALS” Ambulance Service. In the mid 1990’s the goal was to provide First Responder training to volunteers in the outlying areas of the county. In 1999 the Department opened its first substation in the east side of Shelbyville.
In 2000, as call volume continued to grow, it became necessary to increase the number of ambulances being staffed around the clock from two units to three. A 12-hour day crew was also added that year. In 2001, we continued strengthening our First Responder program in the community and school system. In 2002, we opened our third substation located at the state Fire Academy just north of Shelbyville. As the county and call volume continued to grow, it became necessary to leave the Fire Academy to cover the Unionville and Bell Buckle/Wartrace areas. In 2007, we renovated the old Unionville Fire hall and staffed a new Cascade station to serve the Bell Buckle/Wartrace area in 2008 bringing our number of 24-hour ambulances to four. In 2009, our administration and billing staff moved into our newly built Operations Center on Frank Martin Rd.
In 2019, we were able to staff the Operations Center with a 12-hour day crew to help cover the northern end of Bedford County during peak hours.
In 2020, we became one of only eight ambulance services in the state of TN to be approved to teach the EMT program at the service level. Our first class had 11 students and was the first big step in allowing BCEMS to hire employees that were completely trained in our system.
In March 2021, BCEMS was one of the first ambulance services in the state of TN to be approved to teach AEMTs at the service level. This furthered our ability to hire employees that were completely trained in our system.
Our future goals are to continue seeking low cost ways to improve Emergency Medical Services in Bedford County.