San Diego

Falck, City of San Diego's New Ambulance Provider Begins Service

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Falck, the City of San Diego's new ambulance provider, began service on Saturday, months after the city council voted to switch providers.

In April, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously in favor of switching ambulance providers from American Medical Response (AMR) to Falck.

"We have a new ambulance provider Falck," said deputy chief Jodie Pierce, with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. "This process has been six months in the making and today at 6 a.m. the AMR units started to work their way out of the system and the Falck units have come into play and are serving the communities here in San Diego."

According to San Diego Fire Chief Colin Stowell, he has not seen a transition like this since 1997.

AMR has a history of issues with ambulance response times. The city's new provider, Falck, said it has a plan to fix that.

"In terms of response times, yes, there’s going to be an improvement because we will have more units on the road and there are more ambulances on the road so there will be an increase in service and response times," Pierce said.

NBC 7's Alexis Rivas shares some of the arguments for and against the switch presented at Monday's city council meeting.

Jeff Behm is the managing director of Falck. He says the company is ready to manage the hundreds of calls per day and, he says they’re here to stay.

"It’s a five-year contract with an extension – with another five-year extension so we are looking to be here for as long as possible," Behm said.

Councilmember Chris Cate said this move will benefit all San Diegans.

"We want to see investments. We want to see folks hired as EMTs. We want to see investments in the infrastructure, in the units and the technology that really allows us to be more efficient and provide a valuable service that we all need," said Cate.

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