NorCal EMS and SEMSA Address Lack of Service as “Emergency Situation”


Lassen County faces a shortage of ambulatory coverage; SEMSA has confirmed, through its oversight of the non-profit NorCal EMS, that they are currently understaffed and experiencing reduced funding.

In a report to the board of supervisors, the CEO of Nor Cal EMS, Donna Stone, claimed the situation “is a real emergency” as it continues to be more difficult for EMS providers to stay in business. Trent Muirietta, Executive Director of SEMSA’s Northern Operations, contributes to increased insurance costs to patients and dwindling reimbursements as more community members are being covered under government insurance in the county than there are private. He also added that Lassen is seeing a decline in population due to those moving out of the area due to the closure of the California Correctional Center and wildfires.

Murietta also shared that staffing and recruiting remain a stressor that have forced overtime hours on current staffing, which only drives up costs to operate further.

Supervisor Tom Neely of District 3 expressed his concerns that despite the closure of the California Correctional Center, an ambulance continues to be tied up in the affairs of the incarcerated population at High Desert State Prison, reducing the amount of available services for the general public.

Supervisor Jason Ingram of District 5, who serves as a board representative during joint meetings with the Nor Cal EMS Board of Directors, shared his response that, per the board’s last meeting, the Warden of High Desert State Prison said roughly 10 percent of the prison’s population results in the number of calls for service, and felt NorCal EMS has been addressing these concerns in the new RFP that is slated for 2025 going forward, that will better position the county to have accountable EMS coverage.

Donna explained that the modified agreement is being assembled, ultimately reducing the number of SEMSA ambulances to three. Yet, she assures there will be a system in place that will prevent that number from dropping any lower. A revised contract is expected to be complete by 2025.

In the meantime, NorCal EMS will present quarterly figures to all the county boards they operate in, with the next one set to hit the Supervisors’ desk by April.


Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash