As Santa Clara County looks for ways to cope with the massive losses suffered by its private ambulance provider, Palo Alto is expecting few interruptions to its own city-run ambulance operation.
The recent revelations that Rural/Metro has missed a bond payment have promoted threats from the county that the ambulance service is close to losing its $375 million contract. The ambulance company's financial losses performance failures have also left the county scrambling to consider backup options. On Monday, Palo Alto Fire Chief Eric Nickel was part of a group of fire leaders attending a conference with county officials to consider back-up plans.
While Rural/Metro provides about 5 percent of Palo Alto's ambulance services, the city is unlikely to be significantly impacted by the company's recent tribulations. The city is the only one in the county that runs its own ambulance operation, which as been recently expanded to keep up with growing demand. About 90 percent of the calls the local Fire Department receives currently deal with medical emergencies.
Nickel said in a statement that the city will be "minimally impacted" by the county's ambulance dilemma and that it has "the ability to put additional emergency medical service resources into operation rapidly as needed." Some changes have already been made in recent months. In response to a growing demand for paramedic services, the city in May placed a third ambulance into service at the centrally located Fire Station 2 on Hanover Street.
"The community can still expect to receive the same high quality, effective and dependable emergency medical services that we strive to provide," Nickel said. "Being able to control your own service levels is one of the strategic benefits of managing your own Fire, Rescue and EMS departments."