October 1, 2020 — The Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) issued a notice to American Medical Response Ambulance Service, Inc. (“AMR”) on Sept. 23, 2020, relating to six specific conditions and circumstances—each of which constitute a default by AMR of its contractual obligations. The contractual defaults by AMR included incidents related to response times, information sharing and overall care. On Sept. 29, in response to the notice and the ongoing litigation regarding AMR’s breach of contract and refusal to pay more than $16 million it owes as part of the contractual obligations, AMR notified EMSA that it was seeking to terminate the contract, effective Jan. 31, 2021. AMR has unilaterally decided to walk away from the EMSA system, which is a further event of default under the Contract between EMSA and AMR.
“We intend to address the notice provided by AMR in a manner consistent with the Trust Indenture and the Contract which ensures public safety during any transition such as a termination of contract,” said Wiley Williams, Chairman of the EMSA Board. “EMSA’s number one priority remains to provide the highest quality emergency medical care possible. I want to emphasize that this decision will not result in any interruption to EMSA’s services. We have already begun reviewing our options to ensure services are not interrupted as we transition from AMR.”
EMSA’s counsel, Kristopher Koepsel, added, “AMR has been paid the contracted amount, meaning that AMR has been paid its costs plus a 10 percent profit. Paying more than a 10 percent profit was never the agreement and is contrary to the Contract.”
Williams further commented, “The Board will not allow EMSA to pay more than the agreed upon amount in the contract.”
EMSA, Oklahoma’s largest provider of pre-hospital emergency medical care, is a trust which was established to provide ambulance services to the cities of Tulsa, Oklahoma City and other cities within the regulated service area. EMSA holds the ambulance license with the state of Oklahoma. EMSA owns or leases the capital assets, including ambulances, equipment and other infrastructure, and collects revenues, and has contracted with AMR since 2013 to provide the ambulance services, including staffing for those services.
AMR has refused to pay EMSA the amount due under the Gain Sharing provision in the contract, which allows for a reasonable profit for AMR while ensuring amounts over the agreed-upon maximum profit of 10 percent are returned to EMSA for the benefit of the public. These amounts are used to provide necessary infrastructure for the system, including ambulances and medical equipment, to keep costs down for the more than 1.1 million Oklahomans it serves, and for reinvestment into emergency medical services.
EMSA services will continue as usual, while the Board works to identify a solution that is in the best interest of the Oklahomans who rely upon EMSA’s services. Under the current circumstances where there is inadequate performance of an existing contractor, the EMSA Trustees can authorize EMSA to act as the provider of in-field and dispatch services for up to two years. During this period, EMSA will, in accordance with the Trust Indenture, seek to identify a new provider, while maintaining its number one priority to ensure EMSA is providing the highest quality emergency medical care possible to the Oklahomans it serves.
EMSA and its contractor employ approximately 650 people, including paramedics, emergency medical technicians, system status controllers, dispatchers, and healthcare billing and information technology specialists. The Medical Control Board, a group of Oklahoma emergency physicians, provides independent medical oversight for EMSA, develops treatment protocols and conducts quality improvement activities.
EMSA has provided advanced life support ambulance service in Oklahoma since 1978. The authority was established as a public utility model and independent trust authority of the city of Tulsa. EMSA expanded in 1990 to the city of Oklahoma City, at which time Tulsa and Oklahoma City became joint beneficiaries of the trust. Today, EMSA serves more than 1.1 million residents in Central and Northeast Oklahoma. Service areas include Tulsa, Sand Springs, Bixby, Jenks, Oklahoma City, Edmond, Mustang, Nichols Hills, The Village, Lake Aluma, Arcadia and Valley Brook.