ONEONTA, Ala. (WIAT) — After 27 years of service, Blount EMS is forced to call it quits. The move comes after the Blount County 911 board elected to enter into a contract with another provider: Lifeguard Ambulance.

Blount EMS employees are understandably upset about the change after years of dedication to the community, but they understand this transition could be in the best interest of Blount County.  

Blount County 911 director Neal Brooks says Lifeguard Ambulance​ is committed to providing more resources, higher pay and inter-company assistance.

“The 911 board, over several weeks and meetings reviewed, listened to presentations from both responding vendors, and selected the bid that appears best for the county,” Brooks said in a statement to CBS42.

Blount EMS operations manager Weslie Powell said he understands the board’s decision in wanting what’s best for the community.

“If they can provide those four ambulances consistently, then I think it’s going to be a better thing for the community,” Powell said. “So, you know, although we’re disappointed, we want what’s best for the community.”

Powell says Lifeguard has offered all field employees new positions, but current office and maintenance staff will be out of a job.

“There’s a lot of disappointment and animosity because, you know, there will be less total employees, you know, employed in Blount County from an office staff and the customer service aspect,” Powell said.

Field operations supervisor Brian Selke says several employees, including those losing their jobs, spent years of time and effort investing into Blount EMS.

Once Lifeguard takes over, he hopes for a smooth transition.

“You know, obviously, as anything else, there’s gonna be some changes,” Selke said. “There’s gonna be some different difficulties. I’m sure there will be some hiccups, but that would be, you know, that way with anything, you know, changing from one entity to another. But hopefully it’ll go as smooth as possible.”

Lifeguard will officially take over for Blount EMS at 8 a.m. on Sept. 30.