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City Council decides to go with new ambulance firm

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By David Giuliani

A few months ago, Santa Fe-based Rocky Mountain EMS provided ambulance service for both Las Vegas and San Miguel County.

Soon, it won’t serve either.

In February, the County Commission voted to sever its longtime relationship with Rocky, instead choosing Albuquerque-based Superior Ambulance. The City Council is going in the same direction.

The council voted Wednesday to authorize the city to enter negotiations with Superior.

Fire Chief Andrew Duran said a committee of city officials and a local resident rated the two firms and that Superior ended up with a clear lead.

Both the city and the county have tangled with Rocky over the last few years. At first, the city and the county joined forces in looking for a new provider, but they went their separate ways.

In September 2006, the City Council chose Mesa, Ariz.-based Southwest Ambulance, but it turned out that the company couldn’t get the proper certifications, so Rocky Mountain kept on serving the area.

In a daylong PRC hearing in February 2007, the city contended that Rocky had been understaffing its ambulance service. That was after the city alleged that in three instances, the company showed up with only one employee staffing the ambulance.

In February, Kevin Kearney of Rocky Mountain warned that the County Commission may regret its decision for Superior. He said Superior may well leave after a year, once it realizes that the call volume — one a day — was so low.

He pointed to Superior’s withdrawal of services in Valencia County in 2000 after only a year in operation there. A 2000 Journal story reported that Superior’s owner, Chris Archuleta, pulled out because he was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of the reasons for the withdrawal, Archuleta said in the story, was that Valencia County already had another ambulance service.

Superior would be the only such provider in San Miguel County and Las Vegas.