Multnomah County Fines American Medical Response Over $513,000 For 911 Response Delays

Portland, Ore. — Multnomah County has announced a fine of $513,650 against American Medical Response (AMR) for failing to meet the required response times for 911 calls. The penalty is based on AMR’s performance in August, where the company fell short across the system, failing to arrive within eight minutes for high acuity calls in urban areas. Out of the 11,577 calls AMR responded to in that month, 14% were late, triggering penalties.

Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson emphasized AMR’s responsibility to address these response time issues. The fine comes 17 months after AMR initially committed to resolving response time challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

AMR reported difficulties in meeting time standards due to a shortage of paramedics. Despite expanding to Washington County in August 2023, the company faced challenges in maintaining staffing levels for its Multnomah County contract. The county requires AMR to place two paramedics on ambulances, contributing to one of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in the country.

AMR has proposed a shift to a one-paramedic-one-EMT system, similar to other counties. However, Chair Vega Pederson highlighted delays in response times even in those counties with different models.

Under the contract with AMR, Multnomah County can levy fines for poor performance but cannot reduce fines. All proceeds from the fines must be directed toward system improvements. Chair Vega Pederson has tasked the Health Department with determining the best use of the proceeds, considering options such as EMT and paramedic scholarships, retention-related initiatives, regional collaboration on Public Service Announcements, training funds, medical director initiatives, and other projects within the EMS system.

Valdez Bravo, Interim Health Department Director, expressed confidence in finding solutions to workforce and response time challenges, emphasizing the commitment to high-quality, safe, and timely emergency ambulance services. For details on penalties and compliance, refer to the 2019 AMR Contract and the CCRRC 6 Month Review-Final Contract Compliance and Rate Regulation Committee Cover Letter.