VALLEJO — Medic Ambulance is marking its 35th anniversary with some good news on two fronts.
First, the Vallejo-based company will continue through April 2020 as the emergency ambulance provider for all of Solano County, except for Vacaville, where the Fire Department does the job.
Medic Ambulance in 2010 was awarded a five-year contract by the Solano Emergency Medical Services Cooperative. That contract allowed for a five-year extension and the cooperative granted the extension April 10.
Then there’s the headquarters expansion underway at 506 Couch St. in Vallejo.
The company on April 15 had the groundbreaking for a 8,600-square-foot, $3 million expansion that will double the size of the complex. Work is to be finished by the year’s end.
Those 35 years started with Rudy Manfredi, the owner of Medic Ambulance.
Manfredi worked as an emergency medical technician with Sacramento Ambulance Service and then Superior Ambulance Service for much of the 1970s. He was a former pre-med student following advice on how to get hands-on experience in the medical field – work on an ambulance.
Manfredi’s medical career had taken a different turn than he had originally intended. He found he liked a job that brought him to different areas and confronted him with different challenges.
“It’s not the same job every day,” he said.
But Manfredi also had another aspiration.
“I just felt I’d like to be the owner of the business, I’d like to be my own boss and develop something,” he said. “I just enjoyed it and the opportunity arose in Vallejo and I took it.”
Jim Berton sold Berton Ambulance Service to Manfredi in 1979. Medic Ambulance Service was born.
At first, Medic Ambulance served Vallejo and Benicia. During the 1980s, it expanded into Fairfield and Suisun City.
In those days, Fairfield-Suisun City was served by both Medic Ambulance and Solano Ambulance. The two companies rotated calls, with one ambulance provider getting one call and the other the next.
The ambulance companies approached the cities about splitting the service areas in half, so each provider would have its own district.
“They weren’t too keen on that,” Manfredi said. “They thought that would be too much work to the dispatchers.”
But rotating calls had a downside. Medic Ambulance might be near an emergency, only it might be Solano Ambulance’s turn to respond. Or vice versa.
The 1990s brought big changes to the local ambulance scene. The Solano Emergency Services Cooperative was formed to oversee local ambulance service. It decided the county should have only one provider for emergency ambulance service.
The Solano Emergency Medical Services Cooperative in 1999 awarded Medic Ambulance the first exclusive countywide emergency ambulance service contract. Medic Ambulance beat out American Medical Response.
Medic Ambulance won a contract renewal in 2010, again beating out American Medical Response.
There are challenges for ambulance companies. Manfredi said MediCal pays less than costs.
“I think the biggest challenge of all is always going to be reimbursement,” Manfredi said.
Then there’s always the challenge of arriving quickly on the scene when somebody needs help. Medic Ambulance’s contract with the Solano County Emergency Medical Services Cooperative spells out various standards.
Medic Ambulance must respond to emergencies within cities within nine minutes, 90 percent of the time. The time limit is raised to 12 minutes in Fairfield, Benicia, Dixon and Vallejo, with those cities providing paramedic services that are to reach emergencies within seven minutes. In return, Medic Ambulance pays those cities a total of $1.4 million annually.
Since 2010, Medic Ambulance has consistently achieved response time percentages in the 99-percent range, an April report by the Solano County Emergency Medical Services Cooperative said.
Manfredi has seen big changes in the ambulance service industry in the past 35 years, not the least of which is the advances in technology and equipment. Today’s paramedics can do things their predecessors dreamed about, he said.
“We’ve come to a point now, that seriously injured people have a better chance of surviving their injuries than they did in the 1970s,” Manfredi said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.