Impact of AMR buying Rural/Metro on EMS providers

EMS1 readers react to the acquisition announcement with optimism, questions and caution

The AMR acquisition of Rural/Metro is part of an ongoing trend of mergers, acquisitions and consolidations in EMS. In recent months three Pennsylvania fire departments have discussed a merger, two Maine fire and rescue departments have merged, two Wisconsin departments are realizing the benefits of a merger and the Austin (Texas) Fire Department and Austin-Travis County EMS are studying a potential merger.  

The AMR purchase of Rural/Metro is part of this larger trend and is major EMS industry news, especially for the thousands of current Rural/Metro EMTs and paramedics. When the news broke on July 30 we asked EMS1 readers for their rapid reaction. Here are some of their top comments and questions.

Is AMR better?
Many of the comments and questions were from Rural/Metro medics asking if life will be better working for AMR. And many respondents also shared having worked for both companies and being happier at AMR. 

AMR signs agreement to acquire Rural/Metro Corporation.
AMR signs agreement to acquire Rural/Metro Corporation. (Image courtesy Facebook AMR)
  • “I work for Rural/Metro. I just wanna know if now well get treated better and actually have things like a gurney in my rig when I get to work.” — Megan 
  • “Been with AMR for over 17 years and yes I do enjoy working for AMR. Most cases, if you have a problem, vehicle, equipment, administrative or personal, they do their best to take care of it.” — Jim Fritch
  • “Working for AMR in NH, no complaints! Working ambulances, newer ones at that, and any equipment issues are handled immediately up and to taking entire trucks out of service and utilizing a spare (which is also not as bad as many places around).” — Adam Frederick
  • “Worked for both. R/M in AZ was horrible. AMR California was a breath of fresh air!” — Brandon Behunin 
  • “Confused. I'm a shift commander for Rural/Metro.” — Andy Jenkins
  • “I've heard that management is better in AMR but pay can be better for RMA. At least in our areas.” — Alex Derrick
  • “We have three rules at our station: Be Nice, Be Safe & Be Proficient. We are very fortunate to work for AMR.” — Clay Gilman

Expanded career opportunities
Rural/Metro and AMR have operations from coast-to-coast and one of the advantages is being able to transfer to a different location. Many EMS providers are excited about the possibility of moving to a new work location. 

  • “Excitement, especially if they allow in company transfers to these locations. Expands opportunities for both the Rural/Metro employees being brought in and AMR employees wanting to work in these areas.” — Christopher Whithey
  • “I've really enjoyed AMR. Hopefully this provides more areas to transfer to and I can get the hell out of the desert.” — David Carter
  • “Do they have pensions? Do they have great pay? Do they have top of the line equipment? Do they have stations rather than system status (which is an evil form of punishment to burn out staff and hire new staff at cheaper rates). EMS could be an amazing career if we truly realized what we deserve for the invaluable service provided by Medics & EMT's. Know your worth.” — Stefano D'Amato 

All about the local management
In every workplace the perceived effectiveness of management is a top driver in employee happiness and productivity. Many writers shared their experiences with the local manager making all the difference on workplace morale. 

  • “Everybody I talk to says AMR management is better then R/M. I enjoy working for AMR. Things could always be better.” — Nico Bartoli
  • “Despite AMR's nickname as the "evil empire" I'm a stormtrooper and there isn't an Emperor here. It's not a bad place, the capital as a giant company is nice when it comes to pay and actually having what you need. Obviously that's gonna vary division-to-division, but it sounds like a big step up from what I've heard about Rural/Metro. — James Golymbieski
  • “AMR isn't the devil we are led to believe. Things can always be improved; overall I feel that for such a big company they take time to acknowledge the employees. Also the trucks run and are always stocked and supplied. You take away what you put in.” — Jeffrey Allen
  • “I was a 12 year AMR employee and spent 7 as a supervisor. A lot of the success and failure when it comes to the question of "will things be better?" Is directly affected by local management. I have seen good local managers and I've seen bad local managers. The ambulance business is the ambulance business. Your divisions success will depend on who AMR decides to put in control after everything is finalized.” — Scott Kier
  • “AMR is only as good as the division you work for. If you get a good operations manager, then things will be better.” — Brian Calderwood

This is not good
Not everyone is enamored or optimistic about the future of two huge EMS employers coming together in a single company. 

  • “AMR is not good to work for. They only care about money not the patients.” — Alan Pate
  • “Horrible Idea. AMR has been the ruination of EMS in many areas.” — Patrick Cooper

Privatization of EMS
Another thread of comments were about the provision of prehospital care by private corporations. 

  • “Private EMS is private EMS. I've worked for R/M and have plenty of friends that have or currently work for AMR. They all have similar issues. Bottom line is money and are they willing to spend it for supplies and better equipment!” — Jennifer Spaulding Kinsey
  • “Prehospital care does not belong in the private sector where the primary goal is for a company to make a profit, patient care always takes a back seat. Prehospital care belongs in the fire service or a stand alone third service in public safety. I spent 30 years delivering prehospital care in a several areas and private prehospital providers were always problems!” — Scott Call
  • “They're both huge corporations combining to be a bigger corporation you'll get the same treatment.” — Steven Bayer
  • “Guess my question would this be looked at as a monopoly two big companies with contracts. Wouldn't that control most of the private EMS sector, and would this affect the fire side of R/M.” — Terry Dearman 
  • “Private EMS is an unfortunate necessity. The costs are too high for smaller communities to absorb with low reimbursement rates. The money is in interfacility and that is something no fire dept or public third service is really interested in. You bring in a large organization that can handle both with costing the taxpayers nothing in some situations, it is a win-win. People get jobs, patients get to where they need to be and a few people make a buck in the process. Murica.” — Bob Laffargue 

Continuing coverage of mergers and consolidations
EMS1 will continue to cover the AMR acquisition of Rural/Metro in the months ahead. Mergers in EMS is also the focus of an upcoming issue of the Paramedic Chief digital edition. 

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