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San Diego City Council Unanimously Approves Contract With Ambualnce Provider Rural/Metro

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Monday to extend its emergency medical services contract with ambulance provider Rural/Metro Corp. for one year, which will hold San Diego over until the service is put up for bids.

The contract with Rural/Metro, which handles emergency medical services in conjunction with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, was set to expire June 30. The extension will run through June 30, 2015 — with no further option to extend.

Under the extension, patients can expect a "minimal'' increase of about $34 in the average per-ride charge, up from about $1,820 to $1,854, City Risk Management Director Greg Bych said.

The company will also add an extra ambulance to service the South Bay, which has some of the slowest response times, for 12 hours a day starting next month. The $313,000 cost will be covered by the city and the ambulance company, according to city officials.

"This extension creates a more transparent and clear-cut contract between the city and Rural/Metro while also ensuring that every neighborhood in San Diego gets the same quality of service,'' Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.

The council's 7-0 vote also did away with a provision in the contract preventing financial penalties for excessive response times whenever 13 or more simultaneous emergency calls were occurring.

The city and Rural/Metro had been in a joint venture before a 2011 city audit turned up alleged accounting irregularities. A later investigation exonerated the ambulance provider, but the partnership was converted into a typical vendor contract.

The ambulance company eventually declared bankruptcy.

The city's request for proposals regarding ambulance service is awaiting county and state review. Bych said the city could begin taking bids as early as May.

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