Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas County ambulance service Sunstar is for sale

Paramedics Plus of Texas, which owns Sunstar and provides ambulance service across Pinellas County, announced Thursday it is selling the service it has operated since 2004. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]

Paramedics Plus of Texas, which owns Sunstar and provides ambulance service across Pinellas County, announced Thursday it is selling the service it has operated since 2004. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

The Texas company that provides ambulances across Pinellas County announced Thursday that it will sell the service.

The move comes less than two years after Paramedics Plus, the parent company of Sunstar Paramedics, renewed a contract with Pinellas County in 2015. The firm has provided ambulance services in Pinellas County since at least 2004.

Paramedics Plus announced they are seeking a "strategic" buyer and have engaged an investment banking firm to assist in the process, according to an email sent to the Pinellas County's Emergency Medical Services Authority. That group consists of 24 citizens, elected officials, administrators and first responders.

Craig Hare, the Pinellas EMS and fire administration director, told the group the sale is expected to take about six months. An "assignment clause" in the agreement ensures that Pinellas County has the opportunity to examine the prospective buyer as part of its due diligence, Hare said.

This would not be the first time that the parent company of Pinellas County's provider has changed hands. Assistant County Administrator John Bennett said he doesn't anticipate any changes to the service and stressed the county has the power to find a new provider if the potential buyer doesn't meet county requirements.

Korey Ketchum, president of a local paramedics' union, told members on a Facebook page that the company "will continue to maintain service as normal" and that the union will keep a line of communication open to help members.

Last week, Pinellas County agreed to pay $92,700 toward a federal lawsuit regarding ambulance-service kickbacks in Texas, California and Oklahoma. The 2014 federal whistleblower lawsuit alleged that the Pinellas County's EMS Authority received improper payments from Paramedics Plus. The county denied the allegation.

The suit, brought by former company executive Stephen Dean, said the payments came from money Paramedics Plus collected from government health care programs that paid for services for the poor. As a result of that contract clause, Sunstar made a one-time payment of $35,600 to a Pinellas County EMS account in 2014. The county eliminated the provision in its 2015 contract.

Contact Mark Puente at or (727) 892-2996. Follow @MarkPuente

Pinellas County ambulance service Sunstar is for sale 03/30/17 [Last modified: Thursday, March 30, 2017 5:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs


    CHICAGO — Yu Darvish pitched into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

    Los Angeles Dodgers' Chris Taylor hits a home run Tuesday during the third inning of Game 3 of baseball's National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs. [Associated Press]
  2. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  3. Mother's testimony about toddler's death brings judge to tears


    TAMPA — Nayashia Williams woke up early on May 7, 2014, to the sound of her daughter calling for her. It was the last time the young mother's mornings would begin with a summons from Myla Presley, who couldn't yet climb over the mesh fencing around the playpen she used as a bed.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing the 19 month-old daughter of his girlfriend in 2014. He said the child fell while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. Speakers: Getting tough can't be only response to teen car thefts


    ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Dillinger remembers coming to Pinellas County as a legal intern in 1975. There were five major poverty zones in St. Petersburg.

    Wengay Newton, Florida House of Representatives (in front, in center), talks as a panelist to a packed room during a community forum on "Reclaiming our Youth: Is Juvenile Justice a Reality?" at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg Wednesday evening (10/17/17). The event was presented by the Fred G. Minnis, Sr. Bar Association. Community leaders discussed the ongoing auto theft epidemic among Pinellas youth.
  5. Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility and spousal abuse


    White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Donald Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter told the …