“We’re obviously disappointed,” Hartwig told Noozhawk regarding the appeal decision. “We understand that the appeal process is over and that we’ll wait to see what comes next.”
He added that the Fire Department understands the rationale of the decision, and now is looking at what its options are now.
The county has been conducting a public bidding process for the ambulance services contract for the first time, with a five-person panel that evaluated and ranked proposals from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and American Medical Response (AMR) for the agreement that will begin in March 2024.
In October, the panel recommended awarding the contract to AMR, the current ambulance provider in Santa Barbara County of about 50 years.
Hartwig filed a protest to the decision, alleging that AMR’s proposal was nonresponsive and had misleading claims.
The county’s procurement officer denied that protest, leading Hartwig to file an appeal to the decision.
The appeal was heard by a protest resolution committee consisting of County Assistant CEO Terri Maus-Nisich, Director of Community Services George Chapjian, Director of Behavioral Wellness Toni Navarro, and Public Defender Tracy Macuga.
The panel’s members were previously not disclosed.
The committee reviewed appeal documents and oral presentations related to those materials, and was not allowed to consider new material or adjust the review panel’s proposal scoring, according to a county consultant.
The appeal panel issued its decision to sustain the original denial of the protest on Friday.
“Within the finite scope of the appeal panel’s review, it cannot uphold any of the protest issues brought forward by the Santa Barbara County Fire Protection District,” the decision document said.
During a Goleta City Council meeting last week, council members passed a resolution expressing their preference for the county Fire Department to get the contract.
Hartwig said at the meeting that the Fire Department could take advantage of its 37 stations across the county to make the system more integrated.