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New Ambulance Service With a Familiar Face

New Ambulance Service With a Familiar Face

When Santa Clara’s red and white ambulances give way to blue and Rural/Metro Corp’s ( blue and gold on July 1, one thing won’t change: the county’s expert team of 268 emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

In December of last year, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors chose Rural/Metro to replace AMR as the county’s ambulance provider. As part of the five-year contract, Rural/Metro agreed to retain AMR’s paramedics. After more than six months of hard work to make the change seamless, Rural/Metro held an open house on June 24 at its San Jose headquarters.


In addition to the obligatory self-congratulation from local politicians, the event let the community preview Rural/Metro’s fleet of 55 brand-new ambulances and press the flesh with many of the company’s EMTs. The five-year county contract represents 70,000 emergency transports and $45 million in revenue annually.

The for-profit emergency medical services (EMS) company was founded in 1948, and has its headquarters in Scottsdale, AZ. With over $500 million in revenue, Rural/Metro provides ambulance and non-emergency medical transportation services in 400 communities across the U.S., including specialties such as neonatal and bariatric care.

Rural/Metro has been aggressively expanding its operations and is currently one of the U.S.’s largest private ambulance service providers. In March, $35 billion, New York-based private equity company Warburg Pincus ( acquired Rural/Metro for $438 million.

Recently, San Diego renewed its contract with the company, despite an ongoing audit of the financial operations of San Diego Medical Services Enterprise (SDMSE) – a previous joint venture between the city and Rural/Metro. As part of the new agreement, Rural/Metro bought out San Diego’s interest in the joint venture.

With the combination of an aging population and healthcare reform moving millions into the ranks of the fully insured, industry experts say the next decade offers EMS providers significant opportunities.

Santa Clara is a very progressive county, explains Rural/Metro’s California Director of Public Affairs Michael Simonsen, and offers opportunities to advance EMS delivery. Rural/Metro has invested $13 million in new ambulances as well as technology that both improves patient care and streamlines business operations. As a result, Santa Clara County will receive significantly enhanced emergency services without increases in costs, say county officials.

To ensure continuity of service for county residents, the Rural/Metro rehired virtually all of AMR’s paramedics – ensuring knowledgeable and experienced staff from day one.

A second key ingredient in Rural/Metro’s operations is the company’s pioneering use of technology, says Simonsen. Sophisticated forecasting software helps the company anticipate future needs based on historical patterns and current trends. Investment in “back office” technology means less work and better cash flow.

Most important, Rural/Metro’s mobile patient information system delivers critical patient information to hospitals before the patient arrives in the emergency room – better preparing doctors and nurses. The system can also be integrated with hospital records systems, Simonsen explains, cutting data entry delays at the hospital.

Local EMTs say that the transition has gone smoothly. “Everyone did everything they could to make an easy transition for employees,” reports one veteran paramedic. Plus, “the new equipment is like Christmas every day.”

For more information, visit or call (408) 645-7345.


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