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‘My patience is exhausted': Ore. county to fine ambulance company over response times

Multanomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson said the county must take action over AMR’s below-standard response times


Multnomah County said it will start fining American Medical Response ambulances starting September.

Mike Zacchino/The Oregonian

By Fedor Zarkhin

MULTNOMAH COUNTY, Ore. — Multnomah County will start fining American Medical Response for slow ambulance response times after trying to improve performance through other means, county officials said.

“My patience is exhausted,” county Chair Jessica Vega Pederson said in a statement this week. “AMR’s ambulance-response times are unacceptable and they have not met performance metrics in months, requiring that we take action.”

The county did not provide a dollar amount of the possible fines or say how frequently fines will be issued if response times remain below the contractually agreed standard.

An AMR representative was not immediately available for comment. The company has been the sole emergency ambulance provider in the county since 1995.

AMR is expected to get to the scene of a life-threatening call in an urban area within 8 minutes at least 90% of the time. In the six months ending Feb. 28, the company met that standard on only 67% of calls, according to the most recent data released by the county.

Calls were especially slow in east county, with 61% of life-threatening calls to urban areas getting a response within 8 minutes, compared to 70% of calls to the west side of the county.

AMR has attributed the out-of-compliance response times to staffing shortages. In June 2022, the county and the company agreed to a plan to increase staffing. But response times continued to worsen, according to a letter the county health department sent AMR on Monday.

“There has been no change in ambulance response times,” the county health department wrote. “There is not a current or updated corrective action plan.”

Multnomah County said it would start fining the company in September.

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