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Rural/Metro Corp., an ambulance operation serving San Diego County, is near bankruptcy, media are reporting. (This blog, quoting the San Jose Mercury News, reported the deep financial woes July 18.)

The Wall Street Journal, quoting knowledgeable sources, reported July 31 that the Scottsdale firm is preparing to go into the tank. The company missed a $15.6 million debt interest payment on July 15, noted the Journal.

Papers in upstate New York are also reporting that Rural/Metro is on the edge and perhaps headed over it.

This appears to be one more example of the danger of a leveraged buyout. Wall Street's Warburg Pincus bought the firm in 2011, putting in $213 million of its own money and piling on $515 million of debt, according to the Journal. Now Rural/Metro is squeezed between higher debt expenses and shrinking revenue.

Warburg Pincus controls 63.93% of San Diego's for-profit Bridgepoint Education. After a U.S. Senate committee studied Bridgepoint, Sen. Tom Harkin called it "an absolute scam." However, in this case, Warburg did not pile debt on the company. Warburg got in early.

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aardvark Aug. 3, 2013 @ 10:37 p.m.

Makes you wonder how that can be--my mother was taken by ambulance last week to Kaiser Hospital (roughly 1 mile from the house), and the bill for that trip was $1616.59. It must cost a great deal to run those lights and sirens.


Don Bauder Aug. 4, 2013 @ 6:06 a.m.

aardvark: I have reported twice on this company's dismal financial picture and you are the first person to come forward with overcharge examples. I would like to hear more. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark Aug. 4, 2013 @ 6:45 p.m.

Here is the bill in a nutshell (as listed on bill). ALS EMERGENCY--$1565.33 (I assume that is for the response) MILEAGE--$23.01 (As stated above, it's roughly 1 mile from our house to Kaiser Hospital, from near the Allied Gardens library, down Zion Ave to the hospital) OXYGEN--$28.25. I do not know if charges would have been different if only the ambulance was dispatched, as both an engine and paramedics were dispatched. I understand this is now common practice. The engine co. beat the ambulance to the house by a few minutes.


Don Bauder Aug. 4, 2013 @ 8:02 p.m.

aardvark: Extremely stiff charge for emergency response. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark Aug. 4, 2013 @ 10:21 p.m.

Don: Very true--and the ironic thing is, my mother is paying for her insurance as a spouse of a former city employee (who unfortunately retired long before the retirement amounts rose dramatically). I'm curious to see how much is paid for the ambulance ride, and how much we get to pay.


Don Bauder Aug. 5, 2013 @ 6:25 a.m.

aardvark: Yes, please keep us informed. I feel sorry for people like your mother who retired from the city before the big escalation of retirement pay. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark Aug. 5, 2013 @ 8:54 a.m.

Don: Just to clarify--my mother didn't work for the city, but my father did. She is receiving some benefits from the city as a surviving spouse, but she does pay for her own medical insurance.


Don Bauder Aug. 5, 2013 @ 12:47 p.m.

aardvark: Understood. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK Aug. 5, 2013 @ 7:34 a.m.

could it be much of the cost is insurance for liability?


Don Bauder Aug. 5, 2013 @ 8:08 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Could be. Rural/Metro has now filed BK. See entry below. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Aug. 5, 2013 @ 8:13 a.m.

RURAL/METRO FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY. Bloomberg News is reporting that Rural/Metro filed for bankruptcy in Wilmington, Delaware, yesterday (Sunday, Aug. 4). The company has two bond issuances -- one of $200 million and another of $108 million. On July 31, both bond issues were trading at less than 60 cents on the dollar. Both had fallen more than 40% since May 16, says Bloomberg. Best, Don Bauder


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