Judge Rules City’s Ambulance Contract Process Was Fair

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The City of Sioux Falls will continue negotiations with Paramedics Plus to provide ground ambulance services beginning in May. A judge ruled in favor of the City of Sioux Falls after Med-Star Paramedic Ambulance appealed their decision to change ambulance providers.

The appeal hearing, held on Jan. 8, lasted eleven hours. More than three weeks later, a judge came down with a ruling.

It was back in October that Med-Star answered a request for proposals for a contract with the city. When Med-Star wasn’t awarded the contract in November, city officials say they weren’t surprised when the company filed an appeal.

Public Health Director Jill Franken said, “It’s not unusual for unsuccessful bidders or proposers to question or even criticize the process. It just means they’re simply disappointed that the they were not selected and I think that is true in this case.”

Out of the four ambulance service that answered the request, Med-Star was rated dead last. Paramedics Plus received more than double their score.

Franken said, “I think that the scores and the proposals themselves, I think they speak to the level of quality that we were able to find with Paramedics Plus.”

But Med-Star’s attorney says the scores don’t add up.

“My client wouldn’t be spending the kind of money that he is necessarily having to spend if we didn’t feel that very strongly that this was an unfair process,” said Med-Star’s Attorney Dan Fritz. “We don’t think there was any real connection with the scoring system and the reality of providing ambulance services to the City of Sioux Falls.”

Fritz says the city’s RFP appeals process didn’t favor them either. He says they only had two weeks to prepare for the hearing.

“We were handed documents at the hearing that were several inches thick that we had never seen before. It’s just not a process that’s set up to deal with something of this complex nature. It’s set up, like I said, to deal with shoveling walks and dogs barking,” said Fritz.

Fritz says that’s why they were ready for the decision the judge handed down on Friday.

Fritz said, “We weren’t shocked, yeah.”

Med-Star’s Attorney says they plan on appealing the judge’s decision. He says they have 30 days to do so. They also plan to take up other issues about the process in federal court.

Despite any challenges, city officials say they plan to move forward with negotiations with Paramedics Plus. The contract is expected to go to the city council for final reading and approval on Feb. 10.

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