Rural/Metro strikes deal to buy ambulance rival PMT - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Rural/Metro strikes deal to buy ambulance rival PMT

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Posted: Thursday, September 29, 2011 3:47 pm | Updated: 8:25 am, Fri Sep 30, 2011.

One of the Valley’s few remaining private ambulance service providers has entered into a purchase agreement to buy another one.

Scottsdale-based Rural/Metro Corp. announced Thursday that it plans to purchase PMT Ambulance.

But a Rural/Metro representative said PMT, which is based in Tempe and currently owned by StarWest Associates, will continue to operate as an independent ambulance service provider and uphold all of its 911 agreements, system commitments and service levels currently in place.

Although details of the purchase agreement are not being discussed at this time, Rural/Metro spokeswoman Liz Merritt told the Tribune earlier this week that a deal between the two companies is expected to close by the end of the year, pending regulatory approvals of the company’s certificates of necessity, or operating licenses overseen by the Department of Health Services.

Rural/Metro’s purchase of PMT would increase the number of medical transport personnel or ambulance employees to about 2,000.

PMT, which employs 600 in Maricopa County alone, and Southwest Ambulance, the medical transport arm of Rural/Metro, employs 1,200, according to Merritt.

“We are obviously very early in the process, but we don’t expect any changes when we purchase PMT or with any of our subsidiaries,” Merritt said. “We will expand our medical transport operations in central Arizona as well as in Payson. It’s an exciting time for both companies.”

PMT will continue to operate in Tempe, Chandler, Guadalupe, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Peoria, according to Jason Rose, a spokesman for PMT.

Rural/Metro’s Southwest Ambulance will continue to serve in Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Sun City, Surprise and parts of Chandler and Tempe as well as other municipalities throughout the state with its 300 ambulances for emergency and non-emergency medical transports.

In 2005, PMT did not have any contracts with municipalities, but mostly with hospitals and health-care facilities throughout the Valley. Between 2005 and 2010, PMT increased its transports from 20,000 per year to 90,000 per year, according to Rose.

PMT is currently co-owned by Bob Ramsey, principal owner, and Pat Cantelme, owner and CEO of PMT Ambulance’s 911 Division, who purchased the 53-year-old company in 2005.

Ramsey said in a statement, “This transaction, with a rejuvenated Rural/Metro under the leadership of Michael DiMino, enables us to help Arizona and the people we serve during these difficult times of economic transition.”

Cantelme said, “I have been fortunate to serve the community as both a member of the Phoenix Fire Department and later, as a partner with Bob Ramsey and PMT Ambulance. “I am committed to ensure that PMT’s 911 service will be sustained and continued under the existing approved ambulance transportation contracts.” The announcement of the purchase agreement also comes at a time when health-care service providers across Arizona and nationally are seeking to improve efficiencies due to increased pressures on the health-care reimbursement environment, according to a statement issued by Rural/Metro.

There are about six remaining private ambulance companies in Arizona, Rose said. 

“We believe this could benefit Arizona taxpayers, as our goal is to create a more cost-effective environment through operating efficiencies, enhanced patient care technologies and programs, and the application of best practices from each company,” DiMino, Rural/Metro’s president, said in the statement.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com

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