SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – American Medical Response (AMR) intends to file a legal complaint next week contesting the decision by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors' decision to award the County's ambulance contract to Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
According to Michael Rice, Vice President of Operations for AMR, the ambulance provider intends to file a lawsuit alleging violations of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority Act (EMS Act).
The EMS Act requires counties to designate local emergency services agencies (LEMSAs) to set policies, rules, and procedures governing ambulance providers detail AMR's parent company, Global Medical Response (GMR), in a press release issued after the Board of Supervisor's decision on Sep. 19.
According to GMR, Santa Barbara County's LEMSA is the County Public Health Department.
“The Board has effectively given the Fire District an exclusive right to provide ambulance service when it did not have the authority to do so,” said Sean Russell Pacific Region President for AMR’s parent company, Global Medical Response.
The process for selecting a new exclusive ambulance contract was opened up to bidding for the first time in 50 years in 2022.
In the Fall of 2022, an independent panel conducted an evaluation of the bidders and considered AMR a better option in all evaluated categories to which the County's Fire Department filed two protests over the results and lost both relay GMR.
On Sep. 19 of this year, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved County Fire's permit and denied AMR's permit.
“At the center of this is a Board that was following the process until it realized AMR was going to win the contract, so they found a workaround to try to knock the incumbent out of the running,” said Russell. "An independent panel made the decision, and it wasn’t even close. AMR Santa Barbara’s capabilities far exceeded those of County Fire. Given AMR’s significant win margin, we were surprised by their protests, but we followed the process.”
Russell continued, “They [AMR] have served heroically for 40 years, worked tirelessly through the pandemic, and continue to serve their community proudly. They don’t deserve this, and we’re going to protect and fight for them.”