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December 28, 2010 > Ambulance contract awarded

Ambulance contract awarded

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell and Laurel Anderson

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has approved a franchise agreement with Rural/Metro Corporation as the exclusive provider of 911 Emergency Medical Ambulance Services in Santa Clara County. The decision follows a two-and-a-half year process.

"This has been a lengthy, comprehensive and transparent process," said Supervisor Dave Cortese, District 3. "While we've enjoyed a good relationship with AMR for the past several decades, that cannot be the basis for this decision. The Rural/Metro contract will be more beneficial to county residents."

State regulations require counties such as Santa Clara County, which operate Exclusive Operating Areas for ambulance services, to periodically issue a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP).

The current RFP process began in May 2009, with formal and informal meetings with various stakeholders, including the cities, fire chiefs, hospitals and a variety of personnel in the emergency medical field. A consultant was retained to manage the process, draft RFP documents and review and validate the financial status of proposers. A formal Request for Proposals was issued and submissions were evaluated. In October, the Board of Supervisors authorized staff to begin negotiations with Rural/Metro.

"We're pleased with the outcome of negotiations," said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith. "The contract will ensure high quality service to county residents. The contract includes increased penalties if Rural/Metro fails to meet response times. We're requiring a $5M performance bond and a $1.5M franchise fee which will enable us to put a 24/7 monitoring system in place."

The contract also requires Rural/Metro to purchase 55 state-of-the-art ambulances to provide better service. The change of service provider will have minimal impact on existing staff. All qualified EMT will be hired by Rural/Metro and other staff will have preferential status for any openings. Rural/Metro will operate fewer 24-hour shifts than are currently operated.

Supervisor Liz Kniss, District 5 and Board President Ken Yeager, District 4 were the dissenting votes. Kniss preferred that the process be vetted more with constituents through a public workshop.

"I've moved a little on this issue," said Yeager. "Initially, I was uncomfortable and ready to throw out both bids. I'm worried there are still some questions and concerns in the community and the cities."

At Kniss' request, the administration will provide quarterly reports on Rural/Metro's performance on the contract.

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