San Francisco Opens Door to More Private Ambulance Services
San Francisco Public Health Director Mitch Katz is opening San Francisco to wider competition from ambulance services as part of an effort to improve emergency response times, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"Effective immediately, San Francisco will no longer maintain an exclusive ambulance zone," Katz wrote in an Oct. 3 letter to Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White. "If there are additional EMS providers who meet the requirements for (advanced life support) ambulance services, we will welcome them into our system. ... Having additional providers may enhance our system by providing additional capacity."
Katz's decision follows a state ruling that advised the city to put emergency services up for competitive bid.
However, Katz has declined to pursue a competitive bidding process to contract with ambulance providers, arguing that emergency response times will improve by dispatching the closest ambulance to a situation, regardless of its operator's contract status with San Francisco.
Experts and ambulance industry officials warn that Katz's decision to pursue a non-exclusive zone for ambulances could lead to logistical problems dispatching ambulances and result in lower quality ambulance services (Doyle, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.