On Wednesday, Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson announced that she will begin issuing penalties to AMR due to ongoing performance issues.
“My patience is exhausted. AMR’s ambulance response times are unacceptable and they have not met performance metrics in months, requiring that we take action,” said Chair Vega Pederson. “We tried working with AMR to improve this situation without success. As a result, we’ve informed AMR today that we will be exercising our contractual authority to levy penalties for their ongoing non-compliance. We’re also reserving our right to levy penalties for prior non-compliance. In addition, we’re piloting two programs to help address management of the current increased 911 medical call volume and considering other solutions.”
The county says AMR response times to 911 calls have worsened month by month since the COVID-19 pandemic. AMR has told the county that they have been unable to staff the ambulances needed to meet the time standards of their contract.
“AMR has reported to the County that they could fix the situation with several actions included in their staffing improvement plan, submitted to the County in June of 2022. In May 2023, the County also launched innovative pilot programs to send ambulances with EMTs to lower acuity cases. But the company has been unable to supply the needed staff for the pilot program, or reduce response times,” the county said in a press release.
Officials told AMR that if response times required by the county’s contract are not met, monthly fines from the medical organization’s August performance will be collected in September.
Vega Pederson wrote a letter to the Gresham City Council, sharing her actions and concerns about response times.
AMR released a statement about Multnomah County’s decision on Wednesday afternoon.
“American Medical Response takes the responsibility of staffing its Multnomah operation and meeting obligations very seriously. We have made extensive efforts to communicate the severity and external causes of paramedic staffing shortages nationwide to the County. However, we disagree with the County’s current stance.
AMR wants to assure members of the community that we are doing everything within our power to fulfill our responsibilities and address the staffing shortages. We remain open to working collaboratively with the County to find a resolution, including moving to a Paramedic and EMT staffing model like systems across the country.”