In the Feb. 15 Santa Rosa City Council Study Session, Fire Chief Scott Westrope presented follow-up information about the city’s ambulance service delivery options. This study session explored enhancing cooperation, collaboration, and partnerships by all entities involved in emergency medical service delivery. The session was a critical step toward the City having greater parity in decision making in emergency medical service delivery system design, management, and control.
The update included the current Request for Proposals (RFP), managed by the County of Sonoma, for the Exclusive Operating Area (EOA) ambulance service slated to be awarded April 5, 2022, and implemented Oct. 1, 2022. The current RFP process aims to acquire emergency ambulance service that will serve Santa Rosa and several surrounding communities, for the next five years with a possible extension to 10 years.
The first study session on this topic was held on Nov. 30, 2021, after which City Council asked staff to examine (1) the process Santa Rosa would have to undertake to potentially develop a new EOA, within the city limits and contract an ambulance service, and (2) provide a data-driven update on the current state of the emergency services system in Santa Rosa. Ultimately, the City Council and city staff want to ensure the most consistent delivery of the highest quality live-saving ambulance services to the residents of Santa Rosa.
Over the course of the study session, the discussion focused on the challenges of creating a new EOA and possible strategies to improve emergency ambulance services for the residents of Santa Rosa. It was determined that the process to develop a new EOA would be very time consuming due to legal issues and potential challenges. The process could be costly and time consuming without a clear path to a new EOA. Staff also reassured Council that the current ambulance service provider, American Medical Response (AMR), is compliant with their contract terms and has been a valued partner for over 20 years. Chief Westrope stated there were trends noted in the newly provided data that showed less robust compliance than in the past and would require further analysis.
Staff recommended exploring options to develop a new contract for First Response Advanced Life Support (FRALS) service with the ambulance provider selected through the Sonoma County RFP process that focuses on service delivery. This is perhaps also an opportunity to lobby for changes to relevant State laws and local ordinances to allow additional rights to cities regarding emergency medical service delivery in their community.
The conversation, while detailed, critical and thorough, was overall very positive and can only mean service improvements for the residents of Santa Rosa through further collaboration with our partners in emergency medical service delivery. Contracts and program review are frequently assessed in study sessions, especially when the service is up for renewal. No action is taken during study sessions, but rather it is an opportunity to analyze and ask questions about complex issues or programs in a transparent and open forum.
The City of Santa Rosa and the Santa Rosa Fire Department rely on strong relationships and remain committed to being dedicated partners in the emergency medical service delivery system. Exemplary care to the community can not be accomplished by any single entity, rather it is a collaborative process with everyone working together to achieve success. The Fire Department looks forward to working with all stakeholders to build a better system together.