Merced County restarts ambulance bidding process

MERCED, Calif.

Merced County Supervisors voted to reopen the bidding process, giving the current service provider, Riggs Ambulance Service, a chance to stay on. This means more than 100 employees with Riggs will keep their jobs for now.

One by one, Merced County residents pleaded with the Board of Supervisors at Tuesday's meeting as members prepared to settle the ongoing contract dispute between Riggs Ambulance Service and American Medical Response.

"I think the process was flawed, I think the evidence is there, and I really think you need to support, support this protest," said Johnny Mays, Mayor of Dos Palos.

Riggs submitted a formal protest after A.M.R received the initial award bid. In its protest, Riggs claimed the bidding process was flawed because of the scoring system that took points away from its proposal.

"This was really about the process, was it fair to all, was the rules followed throughout the process," said Don Vonarx, general manager of Riggs Ambulance Service.

"Respectfully we would contend that there was no flaw in the process. The process was thorough and the county staff was meticulous," said Tom Wagner with A.M.R.

Officials with A.M.R asked the board to throw out Riggs' protest and officially approve their contract. "We are providing more ambulances, more paramedics, more EMT's, more economic wage and money into the community than the current provider," said Wagner.

Board members acknowledged that the proposal process could have been clearer -- but rejected Riggs protest.

"I just think there are some things that are flawed on this request for proposal and it needs to go back out," said supervisor John Pedrozo.

In a second motion however, the board voted to start the bidding process all over again -- giving Riggs another chance to submit a proposal and stay on as the county's ambulance provider.

Officials with American Medical Response say they were disappointed with the outcome and don't know if they will submit a new bid. County officials say the current service with Riggs will be extended until a new contract is on the table, which could take several months.

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