Riggs also said his company estimates 45 of their 130-person work force would be laid off if AMR took over, particularly the company's billing and management team.
AMR officials such as Sorrick, on the flip side, say they plan to hire a majority of Riggs' work force, if and when the transition happens. "(Riggs') EMTs and paramedics have first right to the positions, as long as their certifications are up to date and they pass their background checks," Sorrick said.
Sorrick added that AMR is looking for a location in Merced to set up operations for administrative staff. AMR officials have discussed a contract with a local Ford dealership to service the ambulance company's vehicles.
"These are good people and we certainly want them to know that they're definitely going to have a job," Sorrick said. "They have nothing to worry about. For many of them, it will be an opportunity to advance their career."
A six-decade history
The sight of Riggs ambulances at the scene of emergencies has been a familiar one for more than six decades in Merced County.
Riggs has been the exclusive ambulance provider in Merced County since 1948.
President Kraig Riggs said his company subcontracted with Sierra Medical Services Alliance five years ago. SEMSA is a not-for-profit company that handle's Riggs' finances, revenues and accounts payable.
Riggs said the move was to save money and jobs.
"It helps keeps prices lower and prevents us from sending profits out of Merced," Riggs said, adding that he's not planning to sell the company to SEMSA. "Without the subcontract, it would be impossible to maintain current employee levels and survive."
Vonarx said the partnership with SEMSA doesn't change anything the public sees -- including logos, uniform or community outreach -- but it does provide extra opportunities.
"As a partnership with SEMSA, we could be eligible for nonprofit grant opportunities," Vonarx said. "Plus, the money we're saving by not paying certain federal taxes stays right here in the community."
The proposals from Riggs and AMR aren't public record and won't be released until a letter of intent is issued.
Still, Riggs officials said they're not going to let AMR receive the contract without a fight. Vonarx said Riggs' management team plans to be at the Board of Supervisors meeting to protest the process and share their concern.
On the other hand, AMR said they're pleased to have the opportunity to serve Merced County residents.
"We believe that we made a superior bid within that proposal." Sorrick said. "Some parts of the county have been underserved and we can provide more efficient resources."
Regardless of the outcome, Kraig Riggs said it won't change his company's level of commitment to county residents. "No matter what happens, we're here for the residents as long as we can be," he said.
AMR is headquarted in Colorado, and the company serves 31 California counties, including San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.
Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.