FOX 5 San Diego

Falck faces concerns over ambulance response times

SAN DIEGO — The ambulance company Falck is facing difficult questions from the City of San Diego after failing to meet the minimum standards to their exclusive contract providing emergency medical services to the city.

“They consistently failed to live up to their contractual obligations in terms of response times, paramedic unit hours staffed,” City Councilmember Marni Von Wilpert said.

Falck took over private ambulance services nearly a year ago, promising faster service and more coverage. The contract calls for a minimum of 900 daily hours of ambulance services, but city officials say they have never met the minimum standard and their working hours have been shrinking.

“People are waiting half hour or an hour for an ambulance that they shouldn’t be,” Von Wilpert said.

Falck declined an interview but released a statement.

“The U.S. is facing a national staffing crisis across all of healthcare, with a particular shortage of paramedics nationwide. Here in San Diego, Falck is putting more ambulances on the street than ever before in the city’s history. We recognize that we still have room to improve, especially with rising call volumes and hospital delays causing backup in the 911 system,” said Jeff Lucia, a spokesman for Falck.

The city is demanding Falck raise its incentives to hire more paramedics or potentially lose Falck’s exclusive rights to ambulance services in San Diego. The council has given the company until January to turn it around or face major changes.