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San Diego Ambulance Service Says They’re Now Meeting Response Times

Photo caption: Mike Rice, operations director for American Medical Response, lays out AMR's ...

Mike Rice, operations director for American Medical Response, lays out AMR's plans to bring Rural Metro's San Diego service into compliance, Nov. 6, 2015.

Officials with American Medical Response said Thursday they're now meeting the city of San Diego's benchmark ambulance response times, following months of shortfalls by predecessor Rural/Metro Corp.

At a meeting of the City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, AMR Operations Manager Mike Rice said five ambulances have been added to their San Diego fleet.

AMR, which recently completed its purchase of Rural/Metro, became compliant with the city's response time goals Wednesday, Rice said. The times vary depending on the zone.

"They're improving every single day," Rice said. AMR ambulances respond to emergency scenes along with San Diego Fire- Rescue Personnel.

The firm is required under a five-year contract with the city — that it assumed after the Rural/Metro buyout — to meet certain response times in four zones 90 percent of the time.

However, data from July, August and September showed that the benchmarks were met between 84 percent and 87 percent of the time.

Rice told committee members that they haven't been able to fill all the regular shifts in San Diego, even by offering overtime to employees, so medics were brought in from other regions to fill the void. Those unfamiliar with protocols particular to San Diego are being paired up with employees with experience in the city, he said.

Mike Murphy, AMR's regional general manager, called the transfers a "temporary measure" that shouldn't be necessary after by the end of December.

Dr. James Dunford, the city's EMS Medical Director, said the ambulance system in San Diego required quick fixes. The alternative was having ambulances that didn't respond to an emergency in time, he said.

Committee Chairwoman Marti Emerald asked them to return for an update in January.

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