Supes unanimously approve contract modification with Nor Cal EMS and SEMSA reducing ambulance service in Lassen County

The Lassen County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a pair of related items that affect ambulance service in Lassen County.

First the supes “endorsed” an amendment to the county’s June, 29, 2015 agreement between Nor-Cal EMS decreasing the “contract obligation” from four ambulances to three.

The second item modified the existing agreement with Nor Cal EMS “to fund additional costs associated with selecting and hiring a consultant to complete the Lassen County Exclusive Operating Area Request for Proposal. The supes approved an additional $12,500, increasing the total cost to $87,500. The company that receives the contract is expected to reimburse the county. The supes approved the contract modification, authorized the chairman to execute the contract modification and provide direction to staff.

The EOA contract is between SEMSA and Nor Cal EMS and must be approved by the state. That contract expires in  June 2025.

Losing an ambulance
According to the amendment to the agreement, “SEMSA shall provide all ambulances, as well as other vehicles and equipment that are necessary for the provision of services required. SEMSA shall have sufficient vehicles to provide the level of service provided, including ambulances, supervisor’s vehicles and any other necessary vehicle. SEMSA shall decrease full-time 24-hour ambulance operations from four to three ambulances. SEMSA will continually staff and operate three full-time twenty-four (24) hour Advanced Life Support Transport Units.”

SEMSA also will continue to maintain an $85,000 performance security in the amount of $85,000 through February 2024 when the amount increases to $195,000. Those funds may be available for county use for another provider if SEMSA cancels its contract.

If SEMSA suffers any “down staffing” of an ambulance for longer than two hours in any 24-hour period, SEMSA shall pay Nor Cal Ems $6,200, and within 72 hours of discovery, SEMSA “shall provide Ambulance Enforcement Officer with a full description of each incident where there was a failure to meet ambulance staffing requirements and the remedial action taken to prevent reoccurrence.”

The amendment, signed Feb. 21, by Carley Strong, SEMSA’s COO, also changes SEMSA’s reporting requirements.

District 4 Supervisor Aaron Albaugh asked for these two items to be pulled from the consent calendar because of his concerns.

According to a Silas Rojas, Emergency Services Chief for the Lassen County Office of Emergency Services, SEMSA has never been able to staff four ambulances in Lassen County — only three — mostly due to the company’s inability to hire enough paramedics.

District 5 Supervisor Jason Ingram said the parties have been working hard to resolve the issue and with the increased fine SEMSA would have “more skin in the game” should it be unable to staff three ambulances.

District 3 Supervisor Tom Neely asked if the prison was being asked to contribute to the cost of ambulance service at the prison because one ambulance is frequently in use to serve the prison.  Rojas said the prison is one of the company’s best paying customers.