The 10-year contract for Monterey County’s ambulance provider, American Medical Response, is coming to a close, so the county put out a request for proposals in early January for a new 10-year contract. Seven companies showed up to a mandatory bidder’s conference on Jan. 29, including representatives from AMR.
Then at 3pm on Friday, May 10, the RFP officially closed. The big question going into the public announcement 30 minutes later was, would all seven interested companies actually bid on the new contract?
The answer, delivered at 3:31pm, was no. Only one company bid: AMR.
Management Analyst Gina Encallado, from the county’s Contracts/Purchasing Division, carried two heavy 18-inch-by-18-inch white cardboard boxes, one by one, into a nearly empty conference room at the county’s government center on Schilling Place in Salinas. The boxes were clearly marked with AMR's red, white and blue logo.
“The RFP officially closed at 3pm today,” Encallado read from a prepared statement to a nearly empty room. The only people present were county spokesperson Maia Carroll and two Weekly journalists. No company representatives were present. “We had one submission from AMR, no other bidders submitted.”
Shortly after the announcement, EMS Agency Director Michael Petrie says that one bidder is pretty standard, pointing to similar results in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Contra Costa counties. Stanislaus received two and Alameda three in past ambulance contract bids.
Anticipating that there will be critics calling the bidding process not competitive, Petrie contends that it was, since AMR and six other potential bidders were at the conference on Jan. 29. Since there could have been more than one bidder, it would most likely have driven AMR to make changes that Petrie say will improve the county’s EMS system in the future.
Next, AMR’s bid will be evaluated by the contracts division to decide if it is responsive to the county’s RFP details. If not, it will be rejected. If it is deemed responsive, it will move on to a county selection committee, and later to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, sometime in July.
In the meantime, a public relations battle is being fought throughout the county by fire chiefs, firefighter unions and county residents who complain the RFP process was flawed from the beginning and that the details of the new contract as currently written in the RFP will lengthen ambulance response times and negatively impact health outcomes for patients.
Petrie told the Weekly in April that he rejects claims that there was not enough public and stakeholder input prior to the RFP being written and released, and that the new contract will improve response times, lead to better trained dispatchers and that it will bring “EMS care in Monterey County into the 21st century.”