The county board voted to end its deal with Metro West, the county's ambulance service provider for more than 20 years.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Washington County is seeking new proposals for ambulance services starting next summer. Its contractor since the 1990s has been Metro West Ambulance.Washington County is ending its contract for ambulance services with Metro West, the company that has provided the region's medical response services since 1997, the county government announced Friday, May 27.

Officials say that the contract was outdated and prevented the county from making needed updates to policies and ambulance services.

"We want to ensure that our community members have access to the highest quality emergency response resources," said Washington County Board Chair Kathryn Harrington in the news release announcing the decision. "Our current contract is more than 20 years old and does not provide the flexibility to make necessary changes that will modernize our system and allow for improved services."

Those changes include:

• An improved dispatch system that would allow 9-1-1 operators to see where ambulances are located and to dispatch the closest ambulance to the scene.

• Updated quality metrics, since the current contract only requires the ambulance vendor to measure response time, instead of the quality of the outcome.

• A new data-sharing system that would require the vendor to implement new computerized systems, which share call patterns with fire departments, 9-1-1 operators and county emergency medical services staff.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to end the current contract once the next 18-month contract period expires on June 30, 2023.

Board members made the move following a recommendation by the Washington County Emergency Medical Services Alliance, a governing board comprised of assistant county administrators and four area fire chiefs, including Hillsboro Fire & Rescue Chief Dave Downey.

County officials say they will issue a new request for proposals, so area ambulance services can vie for a new contract that would begin next July. Metro West will continue to provide ambulance services until the contract expires, and it will be able to apply for the new contract along with other ambulance services.

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