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SCSQUARED halfBy Eric Heinz

During the Tuesday meeting, San Clemente City Council discussed the possibility of bringing in a private ambulance service in order to create a cost savings and shorten medical response times. The council approved staff to explore a pilot program to test the waters of private services for one year.

“During the budget discussions … there were some comments made to look at different revenue streams and models for medical transportation services,” Assistant City Manager Erik Sund said during the council meeting.

Sund said the program would operate simultaneously to OCFA, which currently provides the city’s medical transportation services.

“We could come in with another full-time carrier and ask council for further direction to look at either going to private services completely or going with OCFA for full-time services at two (fire) stations,” Sund said.

Sund said a memorandum of understanding regarding exclusive operating area contracts would have to be examined with OCFA during the exploration process. Orange County Emergency Medical Services requires a mutual aid agreement in order to have two different operators within specific areas for medical response.

Councilman Bob Baker said if the city does find suitable private contractors, he would like a request for proposal process to take place before approval. This would allow for multiple agencies to submit financial proposals in a public meeting.

Mayor Chris Hamm said he wanted to make sure there were no disruptions to services if the city switches to private contractors. Hamm works as a firefighter at Fire Station 59 in Talega.

“One of the reasons were doing this is because right now, a lot of the time, we have two ambulances available and when a third call happens we’re waiting 25, sometimes 30, minutes on response times,” Hamm said, adding he would like a request for proposal to require a contractor to factor in the response time thresholds of the city.

At this time, the fiscal impact of the service has not been determined by the city.

The issue was a discussion item only, and the direction approved by council was to have the City Manager’s office to contact OCFA and private service providers regarding the feasibility of a pilot program.

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