There was a bidding war of sorts even before the May 10 deadline for Monterey County’s request for proposals for a 10-year ambulance service contract. Critics, including fire chiefs who oversee paramedics, were calling for more say in the bidding process.
Only a single bid from the current contractor, AMR, was received by that May 10 deadline. But on May 21, county Emergency Services Agency Director Michael Petrie told AMR the company’s proposal was too costly: “The EMS Agency has determined its needs can be satisfied by a less expensive method. Therefore, we are rejecting all bids.”
Petrie says EMS staff hopes for more bids on the second go; the timeline remains TBD, but AMR’s current 10-year contract ends on Jan. 31, 2020.
“We believe by re-crafting the RFP we can get similar services for less cost,” Petrie says. TheWeekly requested a copy of AMR’s rejected bid, but Petrie says it won’t be released while the process is ongoing to avoid giving a competitive advantage to prospective bidders.
Meanwhile, critics are hoping this second go-round gives them more ability to weigh in. On March 22, the Monterey County Emergency Medical Care Committee – made up of fire chiefs, city officials, healthcare officials and citizens – voted to ask the Board of Supervisors to stop the RFP process, in part “to allow input from all stakeholders.”
But Petrie says the do-over will not invite more public comment, and points to a lengthy public hearing process leading up the original RFP, including interviews with 63 stakeholders, including every fire chief in the county.
In fact, four days after the committee voted to ask for a halt to the process, Petrie wrote to his higher-ups at the state, concerned that elected and appointed officials could unduly sway the process, exposing the county to liability. He also asked the California Attorney General’s Office to investigate, noting “potential violations of law and attempts to influence, control or subvert the Monterey County RFP 10671.”