New ambulance providers begin county service

New ambulance providers begin county service

When it comes to ambulance services, Santa Clara County is
showing its new colors.
When it comes to ambulance services, Santa Clara County is showing its new colors.

Rural/Metro Ambulance and its boxy, blue units officially took over as Santa Clara County’s sole ambulance service provider July 1, marking an end to the county’s long-term partnership with American Medical Response.

The county contracts out for ambulance services for all of its 15 cities and unicorporated areas.

The new company will employ more than 250 paramedics, including some who previously worked for American Medical Response, the county’s previous provider, said Monica Gomez, Rural/Metro’s public information officer.

“All employees who were employed by AMR working in the 911 system who met Rural/Metro’s requirements were offered employment before all others,” Gomez wrote in an email.

Five of Rural Metro’s 55 brand new ambulances will serve South County residents, with three stationed in Gilroy and two in Morgan Hill, Gomez said.

“Everything is so new. New rigs, new people,” Gilroy Fire Department Chief Dale Foster said.

Foster said it was too soon to determine whether the change was one for the better, adding, “It’s been a long time” since a company other than AMR served South County.

“But right now, everything’s been fine,” he said.

The “cutting edge” ambulances are equipped with heart monitors, defibrillators and an electronic patient care recording system that allows paramedics to capture patient data immediately. The rigs are also fitted with power-lift gurneys, a GPS system, a vehicle response camera and mobile data computers, Gomez said.

It’s the first major change in ambulance services for the county in nearly three decades.

The county’s first agreement for ambulance services was awarded in 1979 to SCV Paramedical and Medevac, Inc., which later became subsidiaries of American Medical Response, according to a contract history drafted by Santa Clara County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith.

The county approved a final extension of its contract with AMR in April 2009, which ran until June 30 of this year.

In an ambulance proposal summary submitted by Smith to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in August 2010, Rural/Metro outperformed AMR in clinical quality management, fleet and equipment, deployment plant and cost.

Rural/Metro will also boast 1,300 more total weekly unit hours than AMR and will deploy a higher minimum amount of daily ambulances – 24 to 15, according to the summary.

“Because we do have more ambulances out on the street in the county, it will help our response times,” said Gomez, who added South County residents would experience enhanced service levels compared with the past but didn’t offer details.

The $375 million contract with the county will run for five years, with the possibility of two three-year extensions, Gomez said.

Rural/Metro is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and has its other California operation in San Diego, Gomez said. She said the company serves approximately 400 communities nationwide.

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