Kunkel Ambulance being sold to Tennes...

Kunkel Ambulance being sold to Tennessee company

Posted in the Utica Forum


Greig, NY

#1 Mar 5, 2014
Kunkel Ambulance will be sold to Tennessee-based Priority Ambulance, pending approval by the state Department of Health.

The company, founded in 1939, is owned by Jack and Cathy Kunkel. Until 2005, it was the sole ambulance provider in the city.

The company still will be known as Kunkel Ambulance, said Vice President Cathy Kunkel.

“There aren't going to be any staffing changes,” she said.“We're excited to be part of a national company.”

Kunkel declined to comment further. The Kunkels will remain a part of the local management team.

Priority Ambulance operates more than 45 ambulances and employs more than 300 licensed paramedics and EMTs. It operates in Tennessee as Priority, and also in Florence and Birmingham, Ala., as Shoals Ambulance.

The company, formed late last year according to records at the Tennessee State Department, is run by Bryan Gibson, a former chief operating officer for Rural Metro, a nationwide ambulance company.

He is the founder and CEO of Shoals Ambulance and formerly the CEO of First Med, a non-emergency ambulance company that abruptly shut down in December.

There is a class-action lawsuit against the company for failure to give its employees proper notice of the shutdown, according to news reports.

“We're looking for companies that have a solid operating history and a good track record of patient care,” Bryan Gibson, CEO of Priority Ambulance, said in an email.“Kunkel Ambulance certainly meets that criteria, having delivered great service since the business started in 1939.

“This is probably one of many acquisitions we'll make in New York State, and we hope to continue to grow and build upon the legacy that the Kunkels have established.”

The sale announcement comes 17 months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that granted a permanent Certificate of Need to Utica and Glens Falls for their municipal ambulance services.

For Utica, it ended a prolonged legal battle with the state Department of Health and Kunkel, which did not sue the city but was an “interested party” in the litigation.

The issue had major implications for the city and Kunkel.

City officials said the city ambulance service brings in nearly $2 million in revenue per year and provides a necessary continuity of care from the accident scene to the hospital.

Kunkel officials have said the city ambulance hurt their business and doesn't provide any better service than was being provided already. They also disputed the city's financial figures, saying the city overcharges patients and doesn't include the full cost of firefighter labor in their expense breakdowns.

It was not immediately clear whether the city's operations had anything to do with the proposed sale to Priority.

The transfer of ownership should take less than three months. Once the application is complete, the Midstate Regional Emergency Medical Services Council will forward it to the state Department of Health.

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