End of ambulance service could cost lives

Local News

MOWEAQUA, Ill. (WCIA) — The community’s ambulance service may go out of business. It used to run off volunteers, but those are hard to come by. Now, payroll is too high to manage.

The EMT director says they’ve run out of answers. People living in and around town face a troubling road ahead. Come March, the closest ambulance could be 20 – 40 minutes away.

“Very concerned about our community. People are going to die waiting on an ambulance to get here.”

Without enough volunteers, they’re headed for shut down.

“It’s sad that the volunteers have gotten to this point.”

“We have been begging for help since 2012 and, right now, it’s becoming reality.”

This ambulance service has been around since 1982 and, before last year, they fully operated using volunteers until they started having to pay for employees. That’s when the money problems began.

“At that time, right time started running into funding issues. It’s going to take approximately $250,000 a year to run Moweaqua Ambulance.”

A cost they can’t keep up with. Services are paid either by insurance companies or through a community subscription program.

“If a village of 800 people want an ambulance, they should be able to have an ambulance with certified EMTs.”

Local farmer Eric Shuster says he’s outraged. Monday, he nearly died after a chemical spill on his farm.

“It is a little scary, but knowing your ambulance is close, it’s the first thing that went through our minds as soon as I got out the tractor was 911.”

He says something needs to be done, but Spa says it’s easier said than done.

“Nobody’s willing to give up yet, but it may be too late.”

If it’s shut down, Spa says ambulances from Pana, Shelbyville or Decatur would handle the calls. Some fear the extra time could increase wait times in those areas.

Firefighters will still be in the area, but would need EMT assistance for medical calls.

Moweaqua Ambulance Service is using social media to try to recruit volunteers. Right now, it only has ten and is paying 17 people to help keep services running.

The ambulance director says she’s talking to the village, but it does not have the money to keep the service running.

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