The Scottsdale City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve an emergency services contract with Professional Medical Transport, a firm that previously specialized in transporting patients between hospitals.
PMT and its larger rival, Southwest Ambulance, have been vying for the five-year contract with Scottsdale since city officials voted in January to put the service up for bid.
The contract can be extended up to six more years depending on performance.
Based on Tribune calculations, PMT stands to make at least $5.8 million a year for its services, which are billed to residents who use them.
"The challenge now is for us to make good on our promise," PMT CEO Pat Cantelme told the council. "We will not let you down."
The council’s decision Tuesday means that Rural/ Metro Corp., which owns Southwest, will have very little presence in the city where it began providing fire and medical services five decades ago.
In June, Scottsdale replaced Rural/Metro with a municipal fire department, and Southwest took over ambulance services. Southwest will continue serving Scottsdale until January.
Officials at Southwest, however, don’t plan on giving up that easily.
The company filed a complaint with the city last month, alleging PMT violated anti-kickback laws by offering 150 heart defibrillators to the city if it received the contract. Southwest’s information was based on statements PMT made to news media, because the city had not made public the firms’ bids.
PMT denied the allegations in a document Monday to a city hearing officer, saying that Southwest’s claims are baseless and its legal arguments erroneous.
A city hearing officer will decide in November whether PMT did violate antikickback laws. If the officer rules against PMT, the contract between the firm and the city could be thrown out and the bidding process started anew.
Southwest officials did not publicly comment on the city’s decision Tuesday. They are waiting until city staff members release a copy of PMT’s proposal, said Josh Weiss, a spokesman for Southwest.
"We will be able to more strongly formulize our arguments," he said.
In addition to siding with PMT, the council voted 5-2 to staff four of PMT’s 12 dedicated ambulances with city firefighters. That decision raised concerns among the two opposing councilmen that the move was a disturbing step toward one day providing a city-run ambulance service.