The ambulance service turf battle between the Golden Valley Fire District (GVFD) and American Medical Response (AMR) is the subject of a two week hearing beginning next Monday in Phoenix. The fire district is asking to be awarded a certificate to essentially replace AMR, commonly known as River Medical, as the ambulance service provider within the fire district service territory. GVFD attorney Kath Steadman believes the fire district is on solid ground. “I think we have a pretty compelling story to tell. I think there is a need for local control and more reliability and that’s what we’re going to the hearing to try to prove,” Steadman said. River Medical asserts that it is better qualified to handle the job given its 30 year track record of providing service to the district. The company has included as evidence for its case a number of newspaper articles detailing a litany of fire district accounting failures, personnel problems and combustive politics. Steadman realizes those issues may spill into the hearing, but she said it’s not as if AMR doesn’t have its own history. “I do expect to hear some of that but, by the same token, AMR is in the top 100 false claims list. They’ve had I think five false claims or improper Medicare billing settlements,” Steadman said. “I will say without equivocation that AMR does not come to this hearing with clean hands.” The fire district previously listed district employee Nicole Guerrero as a witness to be called for its case. Since then Guerrero has filed a claim against the district alleging that she’s suffered on the job harassment. With the claim pending, and Guerrero on paid administrative leave since September 16, it’s not clear whether she’d help or hurt the district as a witness in its case. Steadman said Guerrero remains on the district’s witness list, but she’s not certain whether Guerrero will be called to testify. The administrative hearing judge will issue a recommendation on the ambulance service question. The formal decision by Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble is expected in the first quarter of 2015.

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