San Diego ambulance provider faces fines for poor response times

SAN DIEGO – San Diego’s emergency ambulance service could soon face fines and penalties for failing to meet obligations under the agreement signed with the city last year.

The city accused the company, Falck Mobile Health Corp., of failing to meet contractual staffing and service requirements. In a filing Wednesday before the city council’s Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods, the data shows Falck received penalties for its response times, which fell short citywide in December and January and fell short in parts. of the community until February and February. March.

The result of those penalties was nearly $2.4 million in fines, but the city waived much of that total from late December through late January due to staffing issues related to COVID-19.

San Diego Fire and Rescue Chief Colin Stowell didn’t mince words about Falck’s performance. He compared the results of the deal to a passenger on an airplane who buys a first-class ticket and instead gets an economy-class ticket with the airline and says, “Well, you still made it to your destination.”

Stowell made it clear that the city expects more from Falck.

“We have about the same level of service that we had a year ago,” he said. “That’s not what we expected in this contract. We expected more and for that we are holding them accountable.”

A Falck spokesman explained that many of the company’s problems stem from the pandemic and a shortage of EMTs across the country. By April, he said his response time had improved significantly.

“We were very pleased to report that in April we fully met our response times in all areas of the city,” the spokesperson said, adding, “We appreciate the city’s understanding of the impact of omicron and the forgiveness of associated penalties. . .”

San Diego City Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert said she is “disappointed” the city is not getting what Falck promised.

“The reason Falck got this contract was because they said they were going to do more than just AMR,” von Wilpert said. “Now it’s May and we’re not there yet.”

He also rejected the idea of ​​an EMT shortage in the city “because AMR is hiring so many people.”

“I think Falck needs to think about increasing their incentive bonuses,” he said.

Read the city staff’s full report on Falck here.

FOX 5’s Dillon Davis contributed to this report.

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