Ambulance provider rips into county decision

BMX rider airlifted after crash at Christmas Hill Park

American Medical Response, the company that has provided Santa
Clara County with ambulance service for 30 years, has sent a
scathing response to the county after being jilted for a new
suitor.
American Medical Response, the company that has provided Santa Clara County with ambulance service for 30 years, has sent a scathing response to the county after being jilted for a new suitor.

In correspondence obtained by The Dispatch, AMR CEO Thomas Wagner said Rural/Metro Vice President Phil Forgione, has in the request for proposals – or bidding process – “reportedly made statements that Rural/Metro’s strategy was to propose rates below its cost to win the RFP and then return with hat-in-hand to the County for a rate increase.”

Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage confirmed AMR has hired an attorney and said the company may be laying the groundwork for a potential lawsuit. Because of that he declined to comment on AMR’s complaints and accusations.

The two letters sent to county Public Health Director Dan Peddycord, the first one on Nov. 2 and the second only three days apart, tore into the potential new deal with Rural/Metro. Wagner signed both letters.

In one, he chastised the county’s bidding process, saying that it overlooked their own standards when deciding on the best bid. In the other, he accuses the county of not being transparent and questions whether it is gaining financially from the deal with Rural/Metro.

“The purposes behind requiring governmental entities to open contracts to public bidding is to eliminate favoritism, fraud and corruption. These purposes are defeated where one proposer is permitted to promise additional payments of $108K and $50K to the governmental entity after submission and scoring of proposals.”

The fees Wagner refers to are the one-time personnel cost to administer the ambulance agreement and attorney’s fees.

Wagner accuses the county and Rural/Metro of wrongdoing:

n AMR accuses Rural/Metro of proposing rates below its costs to win the bids, and the county for accepting such a contender for the bid. For the county it may mean a rise in costs after the contract is made.

n Wagner shows evidence that Rural/Metro plans to change a cost-saving strategy that made their RFP proposal more attractive, after the county has decided to negotiate with them. They proposed 46 percent of their shifts be 24 hours thereby lowering fees.

n Rural/Metro said it would hire all incumbent paramedics but, according to AMR, there will be 119 paramedics and 101 Emergency Medical Technicians. AMR had 137 paramedics on staff, so layoffs are imminent, they say.

n Rural/Metro misappropriated trade secrets and violated the terms of the RFP when they hired David Lindberg, former AMR vice president of deployment systems, during the RFP process.

n Wagner, asks the county to respond to the protest letter to be sent to AMR and the company’s lawyer, Allen Ruby. Ruby did not respond to a call for comment by press time.

Gage said Rural/Metro’s contract will be discussed at a Nov. 23 Board of Supervisors meeting. If a lawsuit materializes, the board will gather in a closed session to discuss its response, he said.

AMR states its response to the county’s RFP document, outlining the county’s needs from the ambulance service is “far superior to Rural/Metro’s” – but the county overlooked its own standards when deciding on the best bid, the letter states.

The Board of Supervisors is negotiating with Rural/Metro, to take over service, after a 3-2 vote by the board on Oct. 14. According to the county, the savings would be more than 12 percent for the five-year contract that is worth about $375 million.

The letters protest the “Intent to Award” issued Oct. 29 by the county, a nonbinding document that precedes the contract, but states a clear preference for Rural/Metro.

According to Acting County Executive Gary Graves, the contract will be signed within the next two months.

Rural/Metro would take over July 1, Gage said. Though a contract with Rural/Metro is likely, it’s not a done deal, he said.

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