Riggs Ambulance Service General Manager Don Vonarx called Tuesday's decision a "victory," saying it remedied the company's concerns about the bidding process.
"The request for proposal process in itself was inherently flawed from the beginning and the application of it was also flawed," he said. "That created an unfair and unequal process."
AMR officials said it's not clear whether the company will bid again, but it will "look at all options."
Merced County Administrative Services Director Mark Cowart said staff will work with a consultant to craft a new request for proposal over the next 15 months, with the new contract going into effect May 1, 2014.
"We want to make sure we take enough time to be thorough," Cowart said. "The county has every intention of releasing a fair request for proposal that would be reasonable, and we hope AMR and other vendors will want to participate after they see it."
Cowart noted there will be two requests for proposals -- one for the consultant to evaluate the process and assist the county, and another for the actual contract.
Riggs' current contract is set to expire April 30, but county officials will likely extend it for another year while the new bid is being prepared.
The cost of the new request for proposal will be paid for by the winning bidder in May 2014, Cowart said.
But local vendor points likely won't be included in the next bidding process, county officials said.
Public Health Director Kathleen Grassi said the California Emergency Medical Services Authority's opinion made it clear that the points don't provide a "fair and competitive process."
"If the local points are in there, then it's highly likely we won't have an approved request for proposal from EMSA (the state emergency services agency), but that's just my assumption," Grassi said. "So my expectation is that it will be something they'll be looking for and not allowing again."
Cowart agrees. "Based on input from state, I would assume local preference would not be included in the next request for proposal."
Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
APRIL 2, 2012: Request for proposal and bidding documents become available
APRIL 17, 2012: Bidder's conference to answer questions from potential bidders
MAY 11, 2012: Deadline for written questions
MAY 30, 2012: Deadline for proposals
JULY 30, 2012: Letter is issued to Riggs Ambulance Service as the "most responsive bidder."
AUG. 1, 2012: American Medical Response requests a debriefing and public records act request to see the bid's scoring.
AUG. 27, 2012: AMR issues a protest, saying the county is prohibited from using local preference as a scoring criteria.
SEPT. 7, 2012: California Emergency Medical Services Authority issues a response letter to county, saying local preference points aren't allowed.
OCTOBER 2012: Riggs' issues letter to county staff, informing them of changes that include negative revenue in the first few months.
OCT. 22-23 2012: County issues a letter to Riggs and AMR, informing them of the decision to uphold AMR's protest, withdraw July letter to Riggs, and begin contract negotiations with AMR.
NOVEMBER 2012: Riggs issues their first appeal, which was denied by county on Nov. 21.
DEC. 14, 2012: County issues Notice of Intent to Award letter to AMR.
DEC. 18, 2012: Emotional testimony is heard during the Board of Supervisor's public hearing about the issue.
DEC. 20, 2012: Riggs' issues a second protest to the county.
JAN. 22, 2012: County denies Riggs' second protest.
JAN. 29, 2012: Riggs' appeal is denied by the Merced County Board of Supervisors in a 4-1 vote, but they vote unanimously to cancel the current bid and start over.
-- Ramona Giwargis