The Westminster City Council Wednesday approved a controversial contract with the new owner of the ambulance company that serves the city.

The three-year, $2.5-million contract for Shoreline Ambulance LLC was approved on a 3-0 vote. Absent for the vote were Councilman Andy Quach and Councilwoman Margie Rice, who left before the vote. She said she was ill.

Shoreline LLC purchased the firm Shoreline Ambulance Corp. of Huntington Beach, which has provided Westminster’s emergency ambulances for the last five years. Last year Shoreline Corp. won a new contract to assist paramedics from the Orange County Fire Authority.

The switch in ownership is controversial because Shoreline LLC was fined a record $33,750 last May by Los Angeles for repeatedly operating ambulances improperly. Shoreline officials denied the allegations but paid the fine.

Then in December it emerged that Los Angeles County Health Department officials were investigating Shoreline LLC for a separate incident last June when ambulance personnel were alleged to have jeopardized a patient’s care by “negligent” actions during transport. Again Shoreline officials denied any impropriety.

Late last year, the Orange County Health Care Agency granted Shoreline LLC a permit to operate here, despite the company’s issues in Los Angeles.

Shoreline ambulances respond to 911 calls to transport victims to hospitals while being treated by Orange County Fire Authority paramedics. Te authority provides service to Westminster under a separate contract.

Rex Dalton is a San Diego-based journalist who has worked for the San Diego Union-Tribune and the journal Nature. You can reach him directly at

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