AMR Plans to File Lawsuit Over County Fire Winning Ambulance Contract

By the edhat staff

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department and American Medical Response (AMR) had been vying for the lucrative ten-year ambulance contract worth an estimated $1 billion in Santa Barbara County.

While the county initially followed state rules for the Request for Approval (RFP) process, an ordinance created in April gave the Board of Supervisors control over the permits, with Public Health responsible for the contract. AMR is now contesting the awarding of the emergency ambulance service contract to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, arguing that the contract should have been issued by the Local Emergency Medicine Services Agency (LEMSA) instead, reports The Independent.

AMR argues that state law only allows LEMSAs to set the policies, rules, and procedures governing ambulance providers. During the RFP process, AMR scored 300 points higher than County Fire, but County Fire appealed the decision and eventually won.

The finding states that AMR’s proposal demonstrated no community benefits through innovative service delivery, local reinvestment, or an integrated public safety response. County Fire’s proposals included collaborations with Behavioral Wellness on mental-health co-response, alternative destinations to the ER such as crisis centers, and community paramedicine.

AMR is planning to file a civil lawsuit next week and is requesting the county to preserve all related records.

Read the full story at

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Edhat Staff

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  1. Don’t know if AMR has improved hiring practices over the years, but they were horrible with my family member who later died at the hospital. No sense of urgency. Slowly wheeling in. Arguing over doorway. They were inefficient, rude, had no sense of urgency, no questions regarding his current health or what happened, only asking for medications. I have no idea if the medications were documented or given to the hospital. One was a pain medication, and another was a benzodiazepine, the two male employees could have pocketed them. Years ago now, but still I strongly hate AMR or these two employees from years ago. I hope nobody ever has to deal with poorly trained medical technician as I once did. The city/hospital can always contract a better institution. I hope those rendering aid in emergency situations are as professional as possible.

  2. I had an excellent experience personally with AMR. They transported and treated me in a situation where my life was literally on the line. Like I said the other day about Cottage, there are a lot of positive and negative experiences on both sides. I hope the County has done the right thing, not for pensions and votes but for patient care.

  3. County Fire did not win the appeal or the protest during the RFP. In the final leg, the board of supervisors decided to throw out the RFP and do “open borders.” Now the board of supervisor’s is giving fire the contract? Lotta politics… A similar situation arose in 2014, in San Bernardino with SBCoFD and AMR during the bidding process, bought a bunch of ambulances as well… Same FD Chief Hartwig…

  4. Considering the initial praise from the Board of Supervisors and the Fire agencies for AMR’s employees and service, it’s unlikely that we’ll encounter any issues there. However, it seems the Fire Unions haven’t been holding back on criticism, which isn’t entirely unexpected. Additionally, the San Diego AMR pay situation may not have much relevance in this context. I’m quite certain that the County Union has been reaching out to AMR employees, and it would be interesting to compare the employment packages they’re offering to what they’re currently receiving.

  5. A step back in time:
    I worked for the county as a clerk for 5 years, stopped working from that position to care for several family members.
    I was front-line public counter get appreciated or abused. Was open to real abuse, as we were an agency that issued citations. Try explaining that to your customer… I made at top I think 33K in 2011 or 2012. The benefits were great. The terrible bosses (at least 7 in 5 years) and the stress of the job — just glad I quit when I was being disciplined out. I did find it gratifying when my colleague walked out a couple of months after I left after giving notice. It took those desperate moves to show dept. managers how bad this division was. Whew, just glad I’m retired.

  6. AMR, and for that matter the entire for-profit US ambulance system, is awful. Thousands of dollars for what could be a ride of a mile or two with no services provided. I’ve mentioned how ambulances work in the US to Europeans and they’re stunned that we have such a blatantly terrible and inefficient system. I would feel better if EMTs were paid decently but they’re paid nothing!

  7. Once upon a time in this county, emergency providers – Fire, AMR, Police, Sheriff – used to be such a great team. I’m disappointed that such a big wedge was driven into this county through this process. I’m sure it will be many years before the memory of this is gone and everyone can play nice again regardless of the outcome. One outcome that was guaranteed: the Fire Dept has lost a lot of public faith through their unscrupulous behavior in this.

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