Seals Ambulance sells to Tennessee firm

One of the largest ambulance firms in central Indiana has agreed to sell itself for an undisclosed price to a Tennessee firm.

Seals Ambulance Service will become part of Knoxville-based Priority Ambulance when the sale closes, which is expected by Dec. 1. The two parties declined to disclose the purchase price.

Seals Ambulance, which employs 325 people—most of them emergency medical technicians—will continue to operate under the leadership of Randy and Marie Seals, who took over the company in 1992 from Randy Seals’ parents. It was founded a funeral transport service in 1965.

“My wife and I have been doing this for multiple years and we’re ready to not have the ultimate responsibility anymore,” said Randy Seals, 54. He also said there may be some opportunity for him to move up within the Priority organization, but said there are no plans for that now.

Seals expects his company to bring in annual revenue this year of about $13 million from its contracts with numerous hospitals and government agencies. Seals Ambulance’s clients include Community Health Network, St. Vincent Health, Riverview Health, Hancock Regional Hospital, Johnson Memorial Hospital, Kindred Hospitals, and some of the Indiana University Health hospitals north of Indianapolis.

The company will do 45,000 runs this year, using its fleet of more than 50 ambulances and eight wheelchair vans.

Seals hopes having greater buying power with Priority will help Seals Ambulance update its technology, so it can communicate health information more effectively with hospitals even as it is driving patients to health care providers’ facilities.

“Technology updates every three months. It’s a lot to keep on top of it,” Seals said.

Other ambulance operators have faced intense challenges in Indiana. In August, the Rural/Metro ambulance service decided to close its operations in five Indiana communities, including Indianapolis, and lay off as many 361 workers.

Rural/Metro was hit by low-volume contracts with governmental agencies for emergency ambulance services.  Emergency service is a minor part of Seals Ambulance’s business, Seals said.

However, Seals acknowledged that health reform is changing the ambulance business via cost pressures, reductions in some areas of transport and the potential for increased runs in other areas.

Even so, Seals said he does not plan any staff reductions after the merger with Priority. Instead, he hopes there are opportunities to bring in more business.

“I would really anticipate growth,” Seals said. “Maybe a large contract that comes that comes in that would be tough for us to do now, we’ll have the resources to handle it.”

Priority Ambulance has 375 EMTs on its staff. It provides ambulance service in Alabama, New York and Tennessee.

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