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Falck protests Hawaii EMS contracts going to AMR

Falck USA filed notice alleging errors in evaluation criteria

By Leila Fujimori
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

HONOLULU — The company that initially won the state contracts for emergency medical services for Maui and Kauai counties and then lost it in a rebidding process is formally contesting the awarding of the work to International Life Support, dba American Medical Response, or AMR.

Falck USA filed a notice of protest Friday with the state Department of Health regarding the two four-year contracts for emergency ground ambulance service going to AMR, which was announced May 24.

“We filed a notice of protest after identifying what appears to be a clear error in calculating Falck’s scores, along with inconsistencies in the evaluation criteria used to award the contracts,” Troy Hagen, chief commercial officer of Falck USA, said Friday in a written statement.

“We look forward to opening discussions with the Department of Health and ensuring these vitally

important emergency medical services contracts are awarded based on a fair and transparent process.”

State health officials said in a request for comment, the department “has received a notice of protest from Falck Northwest Corp. regarding the non-selection of Falck for award of contracts to provide ground ambulance services for the counties of Maui and Kauai .”

“The filing of these protests triggers suspension of any further action on contract award and execution until a disposition is made. Until that time, the Department of Health is unable to provide comment or other information regarding the RFPs and protests.”

The now-suspended four-year contracts with AMR were to run from Jan. 1, 2025, to Dec. 31, 2028. The Kauai contract is for $38 million, and the Maui contract is for $74 million, which includes a second Molokai ambulance.

In 2023, DOH awarded Falck a 3-1/2-year, $59 million contract for Maui and a $32 million contract for Kauai, both to have run from Dec. 28 of that year to June 30, 2027.

But DOH canceled the deal on Oct. 23 after concerns about the contracts from the counties’ paramedics associations, the Maui County Council and AMR, which held the contracts for the counties for 44 years.

On April 15, DOH announced new requests for proposal, which addressed some of the concerns aimed at what some, including paramedics, characterized as a reduction in the qualified level of staffing.

State Health Director Dr. Kenneth Fink said in an April 15 news release that the new RFPs clearly require every district to have an ambulance staffed with a paramedic and a second responder who is at least an EMT, which is the current staffing-level requirement. Paramedics are able to provide needed life support.

Others criticized Falck for a history of response-time penalties and compliance issues. In San Diego, the local media reported the company was fined in 2022 for response-time failures due to persistent staffing shortages.

Hagen said the company continues to stand ready to serve.

“As a foundation-owned healthcare provider, we would bring a fresh perspective, unmatched financial stability, reliable services developed around global best practices, and a deep commitment to delivering the highest quality care to the communities we serve.”

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