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Brief History_______________________________________________________________

Equipped and Ready to Go!

Unicoi County is approximately 186 square miles of varying terrain in Northeast Tennessee.  It is part of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area and the wider region of the Appalachian Highlands.  Winding through the mountains and valleys are various major highways – including I-26, US 19W, SR 36, and SR 107.  Popular destinations include the Appalachian Trail, Clinchfield Railroad Museum, Federal Fish Hatchery, Nolichucky River, Pinnacle Mountain Fire Tower, Rock Creek Recreation Area, State Fish Hatchery, and the Unicoi County Heritage Museum.  Popular events include the Erwin Outdoor Festival, Flag Pond Ramp Festival, Southeastern Autorama, Unicoi County Apple Festival, Unicoi Freedom Fest, and Unicoi Strawberry Festival.

Approximately 18,000 people call Unicoi County home.  The Town of Erwin serves as the county seat.  Also, in the mountains and valleys are the Town of Unicoi; the communities of Bumpus Cove, Flag Pond, and Limestone Cove; and the census-designated place of Banner Hill.  Unicoi County is home to many regional, national, and international businesses:  agriculture, automotive, defense, manufacturing, nuclear fuel, and retailers.  Local entrepreneurial offerings include antiques, automobiles, clothing, food, hardware, and produce.  Visitors to the area include bikers, campers, festival enthusiasts, fishermen, hikers, leaf peepers, and whitewater rafters.  The roles of first responders are filled by law enforcement officers, firefighters, 911 dispatchers, and emergency medical technicians. 

A need for an ambulance service in Unicoi County was created when the only ambulance-service provider opted out of its contract.  Washington County/Johnson City EMS, Inc., served as Unicoi County’s ambulance service under a one-year interlocal agreement and provided guidance and assistance to create a new ambulance service for Unicoi County.  After a lot of hard work and some delays, Unicoi County Emergency Medical Services (UCEMS) began operations at 8:00 am on August 24, 2020.

UCEMS is a quasi-governmental nonprofit with a nine-member board of directors that meets monthly.  Day-to-day operations are overseen by the Executive Director/Chief.  Field operations and training are overseen by the Deputy Chief.  Accounting, administrative, bookkeeping, budgetary, business, research, and technical support are provided by the Office Manager.  Fifteen licensed paramedics – critical care, paramedics, advanced emergency medical technicians, and emergency medical technicians make up the remaining eighteen full-time employees.  Equipment includes three primary ambulances, two back-up ambulances, and a supervisor’s truck.

The Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen, partnering with UCEMS, purchased 116 Golf Course Road in Unicoi, Tennessee, for use as an emergency responder substation.  The months of planning, construction, and inspections culminated in a new, fully equipped substation, the Town of Unicoi Public Safety Annex. UCEMS’ Unicoi substation began operation at 8:00 am on April 17, 2023. 

UCEMS is honored to provide around-the-clock Advanced Life Support and Basic Life Support emergency response, as well as non-emergency ambulance transportation services, to the citizens of, and visitors to, the Town of Erwin, Town of Unicoi, and Unicoi County.

Mission Statement

Unicoi County Emergency Medical Services (UCEMS) was created as a joint venture of Unicoi County, The Town of Erwin, and The Town of Unicoi to provide excellence in pre-hospital care and transport to the citizens of Unicoi County by using the most state-of-the-art and advance pre-hospital care practices.

The Unicoi County Emergency Medical Services Board of Directors and Executive Director/Chief will provide UCEMS with progressive management of the UCEMS system, ongoing retrospective evaluation of the UCEMS system, and continued program improvements to the UCEMS system in Unicoi County and the Towns of Erwin and Unicoi.

Vision Statement

Unicoi County Emergency Medical Services (UCEMS) strives to be the leader in rural pre-hospital healthcare services in Eastern Tennessee and beyond by maintaining the established public’s trust, confidence, and respect by providing high-quality patient care. UCEMS is structured and governed by organized, professional, and proven fundamentals.

Core Values:  “Leadership, Community, and Compassion”

  • Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to “lead” or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations.
  • Community is a social unit with commonality, such as norms, religion, values, customs, or identity. Communities may share a sense of place situated in a given geographical area through communications platforms. Durable relations that extend beyond immediate genealogical ties also define a sense of community, important to their identity, practice, and roles in social institutions such as family, home, work, government, society, or humanity at large.
  • Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another and themselves.


“The Best Little Service in the State”

Director’s Report: Operations

March 2024
Total Call Volume
Calls by City
# of Calls
Average Response Times
Flag Pond
Performance Measure
Average Times
Out Of Chute
52 seconds
<60 seconds
Response Time
<10 minutes
On-scene Time
<20 minutes
Total Call Time
<60 minutes
Transports to Facilities
# of Transports
Unicoi County Hospital
Johnson City Medical Center
Franklin Woods Community Hospital
Bristol Regional Medical Center
Sycamore Shoals Hospital
James H Quillen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Holston Valley Medical Center
Wake Forest
Mission Hospital
Other Out of Town
Dialysis Transports to Johnson City