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Boulder Begins New Contract with AMR

The city of Boulder will enter into a five-year ambulance contract with American Medical Response, ending a 12-year run with Pridemark/Rural Metro.

The contract, announced Friday, goes into effect Jan. 1.

Both AMR and Pridemark submitted proposals in June after the city announced that it was putting its ambulance service out for bids.

"First, I want to say that Pridemark has been doing a good job for us," said Boulder Fire Chief Larry Donner. "But periodically we like to go out for bids to see what is out there. AMR offered an equal service that ultimately will cost the patients less money."

Since 1999, the city participated in a countywide contract with Pridemark for emergency medical services. Under that contract, ambulances in the city also served more rural areas of Boulder County. With several other local municipalities opting out of the contract, Donner said, the city of Boulder felt it was time to look into getting an exclusive contract.

"The primary benefit is that it gives us more direct control over the services provided to our community," he said. "It allows us to serve and provide city residents without subsidizing services to lesser populated areas of the county."

AMR, which will also enter into a contract with Boulder County in 2012 and already serves Longmont, had previously served the city of Boulder before Pridemark.

"We're very excited," said Tracy Mullins, AMR operations chief for the Denver and Boulder region. "We've been up there for 20-plus years, we put in a fair bid and we're glad the city chose it. We're excited to get a system put together."

Under the terms of the contract, a minimum of four ambulances will be in the city at all times while maintaining a seven-minute response time to 90 percent of all medical emergencies. The contract also includes ongoing emergency medical training for city firefighters.

The city estimates that the average middle-aged man with chest pains will save about $300 under the American Medical Response proposal.

AMR will also have ambulance bases within the city, which officials said should reduce fuel costs. Pridemark stations ambulances on the street, which means the vehicles must remain idling in winter and summer to maintain conditions in the ambulance.

The contract also requires AMR to submit monthly performance reports to the city, which Donner said will allow officials to ensure residents are being properly taken care of.

"That allows us to look at response times to make sure ambulances are arriving in a timely fashion," he said. "If not, we can level fines for delayed response, or if the service doesn't meet our standards we can look for new proposals. But I don't think that will be the case."

Pridemark will remain the ambulance service provider until the end of the year.

"It's been a good run," said Courtney Morehouse, marketing director for Pridemark. "Pridemark has been here a long time working with local agencies and serving residents. I think it's something to be proud of."



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