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Ambulance service ending its run

MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) -- Dunn's Ambulance Service is shutting down, leaving only one company left to cover all emergency calls in the city.

Dunn's will close by the end of May. Now the city is trying to figure out what to do to make up for the ambulances it's losing. City leaders were just notified of the closure this week, so right now it's crunch time to figure out what can be done.

On Tuesday, city officials got the call from the owner of Dunn's saying they would be closing its doors because of staffing problems.

City Administrator Kyle Gill says, "There's been, in the last few weeks, some days they only ran one ALS ambulance instead of the two that they tried to normally staff."

In July of last year, the city cut the fire department's ambulance service because they couldn't afford it. It took out three ambulances.

Gill says, "The union advised the city this was a possibility, that a service could call it quits. The potential ramifications are a lack of service here until the city can figure out what they want to do."

All the emergency medical equipment was transferred onto the fire trucks if they need to respond.

Bart Owen with Mattoon Fire Department says, "Our fire department is very lucky. 60% of our guys are paramedics at this time. That's why we feel we could step right back in and help."

But, the city says they can't afford to recommission those ambulances. Gill says he doesn't think people will be affected when Dunn's closes. He says, "II don't think you'll see a big impact. The days they were below, Mitchell-Jerdan, which is the other ambulance service in town, was able to cover all calls."

Mitchell-Jerdan is the only private ambulance company left in town. In the past few months, they've upgraded ambulances and added staff. They say they're able to "safely meet all the emergency medical transport needs in the city."

The city will discuss options at Tuesday's council meeting. Before that, they'll gather data on how many times out-of-town ambulance services had to help Mattoon for emergency calls. They'll also talk to 911 dispatch and hospitals to hear any concerns.

The city says it can't afford to reinstate the fire department's ambulance service. This year, they have a $450,000 budget deficit. They say increasing costs of pensions and healthcare make it nearly impossible.


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