San Diego

Rural Metro Ambulance Company Fined For Missing Response Time Requirements In San Diego

Rural Metro must pay $291K in penalties for late response times

Rural Metro ambulances have failed to meet mandated emergency response time standards in five of eight medical response zones in the City of San Diego when the highest priority patients are involved, according to a letter from the city’s Deputy Fire Chief. 

As a result the company must pay $291,000 in penalties by November 16, according to the letter from Christopher Heiser, City of San Diego Deputy Fire Chief.

In a memo to the mayor and city council members Heiser details what the penalties are for, including one fine of $71,000 for “responses greater than 24 minutes."

Rural Metro contracts with the City to provide ambulance services. It requires a response time standard of twelve minutes or less, 90 percent of the time for emergency calls.

The penalties are associated with a FY 2017 Quarter 1 report, which represents July, August and September response data. In San Diego there are eight emergency response zones.

Mobile users can click here to view a map of the emergency response zones.


The data shows the company’s worst rate meeting that target was 85.6 percent in Southeast San Diego, labeled as zone six. It's one of the poorer demographic areas of the city, according to the data from the San Diego Association of Governments.

Look below or click here to see the ambulance response time compliance for each zone.

The company was also required to submit a “plan to cure,” detailing the reasons for non-compliance.

Last week, Mike Rice, Director of Operations for Rural Metro submitted the "plan to cure" and said the company is committed to “providing the City of San Diego a world-class EMS system.” 

Jason Sorrick, Director of Communications and Government Relations for AMR told NBC 7 Investigates that the company has "exceeded the citywide response time requirement each and every month. However, because of a local and national paramedic shortage, we have recently been short of our response time goals in select zones."

Rural Metro was acquired by AMR last year. In his email, Sorrick said, "AMR is actively recruiting, training and hiring paramedics in San Diego."

Have you waited longer than 12 minutes for an ambulance? Contact the NBC 7 Investigates team:

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