SAN DIEGO — A proposed amendment to the city and Falck Mobile Health Corp. contract could bring changes to ambulance services in San Diego.
Falck and the city have agreed to implement an alliance model system as a short-term fix to the problems Falck has faced, including short staffing and long wait times.
The change would give more power and say to the city, instead of Falck, by giving the city the control over staffing, ambulance deployment and patient billing.
The change also gives Falck the ability to contract with other ambulance services to help fill the need. Falck leaders have said they already have a plan in the works with American Response Services to sub-contract four ambulances to San Diego, for 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.
The proposed amendment needs to pass the Public Safety Committee on Friday and then needs a council vote to be finalized.
“There are so many calls that are happening and with the staffing that we are providing right now, there is just not enough ambulances, and this is what happens across the country,” Falck San Diego Managing Director Jeff Behm said. “Even when we are fully staffed and we are at the magic number of unit hours that we are looking to get to, there are periods of times of the day when the demand is just too much on the supply, so that is going to cause challenges, but it will be a little bit mitigated adding on these additional units.”
FOX 5 has reported on city leaders claiming Falck has failed to meet the contract it started with the city in late 2021, with long wait times, short staffing and not meeting its minimum staffing requirements.
“We are struggling with with some of those response times in certain areas withthe shortage of staffing, you know, this national paramedic shortage is affecting all EMS across the country, and so it’s not anything unique to San Diego,” Behm said.
Both Behm and San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Colin Stowell believe this amendment is better for the San Diego community.
“It’s good for all San Diegans and visitors to our fine city and very importantly as well to our workforce to give them some relief,” Behm said.
According to Behm, Falck pays about $9 million a year in fee for service and lease payments for the firehouses where staff lives with the fire department. Under the alliance-model, those fees will not be paid and Falck will be paid by the city per unit hours.
Falck’s call volume dispatch is up 13% and transport is up 7%, Behm said.
The deal will first be heard at the Public Safety Committee meeting Friday at 9 a.m. If approved, it would go to the city council for approval.
There is a second amendment in the works and has not been finalized, but Behm believes it could be heard in July, and the alliance would start in late summer.