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Ambulance Workers Picket Rival In San Andreas

Valley Springs Ambulance employees and Valley Springs residents picketed at the front door of American Legion Ambulance Company Monday saying there´s just no room for the Jackson-based company in Calaveras County.

In January the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors split the county into three ambulance coverage zones, each with an exclusive provider. A bid process for those zones will begin Sept. 1.

During a study session last week, the board denied a request to give local ambulance service providers preference during the bid process.

Ed Anderson of Valley Springs Ambulance took a break from the picket lines to speak to the board during the supervisors´ meeting Monday.

When American Legion set up shop in the county two years ago, there wasn´t enough call volume for it and San Andreas Ambulance, Anderson said. Subsequently San Andreas Ambulance lost $200,000, he said.

“Support our local businesses and jobs,” Anderson urged supervisors. “Fourteen other (out-of county) providers have indicated they want to apply for bids,” Anderson told the board.

American Legion charges two times more than Valley Springs, he added.

The county´s current providers are American Legion, Valley Springs Ambulance, San Andreas Ambulance, American Medical Response, and Ebbetts Pass Fire Protection District.

Ambulance providers have until January 2005 to bid for Calaveras County´s new coverage areas.

Valley Springs resident Al Duncan said he´s surprised Supervisors Lucy Thein and Victoria Erickson, who represent the affected areas, “aren´t standing up for the local ambulance companies.”

American Legion bought six new vehicles in anticipation of winning the bid to operate in one of the county´s proposed zones.

During the board´s study session, the local Emergency Medical Services Oversight Committee explained how the bid process would work.

The board agreed with most of the committee´s recommendations.

Providers can bid to cover the entire county and contracts would be for five years.

On Feb. 23, a decision would be made awarding the contracts, Tom Mitchell, the county´s administrative officer, said.

Supervisors turned down a request made by Angels Camp officials to reconsider having a fire chief on the local committee.

The city has maintained having a fire representative on the committee is essential since firefighters are often the first responders.

“The board wasn´t interested in revisiting that issue,” Mitchell said.

Calaveras Enterprise story by Vanessa Turner. For more Calaveras news, click:calaverasenterprise.com