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North Las Vegas modifies ambulance contract with MedicWest

The North Las Vegas Fire Department is “absorbing” dispatch duties from the private ambulance company it contracts for 911 calls.

The measure, approved by the City Council Wednesday, modifies the contract with MedicWest, which was extended until 2026.

MedicWest — which shares a parent company with AMR — has its own dispatch staff which send units to medical emergencies in the jurisdictions that contract them.

The North Las Vegas Fire Department, under the new contract, will instead be leasing the ambulances and medics from MedicWest for emergency calls.

“We will begin contracting out unit hours for them and have full control over the dispatch and use of their units giving the city greater control over appropriate response times,” said North Las Vegas Fire Chief Joseph Calhoun in a statement.

Compliance issues

Contracts with North Las Vegas, the city of Las Vegas and Clark County require ambulance crews to be on time 90 percent of the time to be compliant. In Clark County and Las Vegas, for example, that’s 12 minutes.

During a recent 17-month period in the county, AMR and MedicWest only reached that benchmark one and zero times. This led to the fire department transporting more patients, straining resources, county officials said.

The blunders resulted in financial penalties and a zone the companies serviced, with nearly 31,000 annual calls, transferred to a third entity, Community Ambulance.

The redrawn map took in effect last month.

Michael Johnson, regional director for AMR and MedicWest, told the Review-Journal Friday that the companies are working with the county to “mitigate the changes” and are hopeful to reach a point of delivering”timely services.”

Municipality shortfalls

Johnson said the company was satisfied with the new arrangement in North Las Vegas. From October 2021 to November 2022, MedicWest faced similar woes to those in Clark County in the two zones it covers.

During that time period, the company only reached the 90 percent benchmark one month in one of the zones.

Calhoun said the company had been “penalized” for every month they didn’t meet the threshold. He said the new contract would “secure guaranteed coverage and a more efficient system.”

He noted the pandemic and staffing shortages contributed to the issues.

Johnson told the Review-Journal in December that the industry needed an overhaul, which included attracting new talent and self-regulating how many of the paramedics move on to careers with the local fire departments.

AMR in 2022 faced similar compliance struggles in the city of Las Vegas, with four of five zones not being compliant a single month. MedicWest was compliant in 10 of the months, city provided figures show.

Community Ambulance remained compliant all year.

Johnson said the companies’ contract with Las Vegas ends at the end of the year and that company officials are looking forward to the negotiations.

“We do plan to continue servicing them,” he said.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow @rickytwrites on Twitter.

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