Chair Jessica Vega Pederson: County will issue penalties to address AMR performance issues

August 9, 2023

Chair Jessica Vega Pederson at a recent Board meeting.

Chair Jessica Vega Pederson issued the following statement today on her decision to begin issuing penalties to the sole ambulance provider in Multnomah County —  American Medical Response, Inc. — for performance issues.

“My patience is exhausted. AMR’s ambulance response times are unacceptable and they have not met performance metrics in months, requiring that we take action,” said Chair Vega Pederson. “We tried working with AMR to improve this situation without success. As a result, we’ve informed AMR today that we will be exercising our contractual authority to levy penalties for their ongoing non-compliance. We’re also reserving our right to levy penalties for prior non-compliance. In addition, we’re piloting two programs to help address management of the current increased 911 medical call volume and considering other solutions.”

Multnomah County Emergency Medical Services provides medical oversight and overall coordination of the emergency medical system including the ambulance services provided by AMR. The company has been the sole emergency ambulance provider since 1995.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, AMR response times to 911 calls have worsened month over month. AMR has reported they have been unable to staff all the ambulances needed to meet the time standards required by its Multnomah County contract. 

AMR has reported to the County that they could fix the situation with several actions included in their staffing improvement plan, submitted to the County in June of 2022. In May 2023, the County also launched innovative pilot programs to send ambulances with EMTs to lower acuity cases. But the company has been unable to supply the needed staff for the pilot program, or reduce response times.

In its actions today, the County Health Department notified AMR that it expects the ambulance company to meet the response times required by the County’s contract in August. Failure to do so will result in monthly fines for August performance beginning collected in September. Multnomah County letter to AMR re: penalties (775.85 KB)

Chair Vega Pederson also notified the Gresham Mayor and City Council of her actions in response to their concerns around response times. Read: Chair Vega Pederson letter to City of Gresham re: AMR performance issues (309.63 KB)

For a description of the exact penalties and penalty structure, please see Page 25 and 26 2019 AMR Contract- Complete (1.47 MB)

For compliance, see the CCRRC 6 Month Review-Final (1.1 MB) Contract Compliance and Rate Regulation Committee Cover Letter (135.97 KB).

AMR has been out of compliance with response times since March of 2022.