Money-saving move poses problems for patients

Local News

MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — Ambulance services in the area are now picking up slack for emergency calls.

It’s because city leaders cut the service with the fire department in July. There are two other private services in town, but residents say it’s not enough. Some spoke at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

The fire department had three ambulance vehicles; two of which were fully staffed. Now, sometimes, they have to outsource to other services when they need more help.

“At ten after four, they called an ambulance and I sat there waiting until 5:30 to get an ambulance to go to Carle and I had to wait for them to come in from Paris.”

It appears these complaints won’t be going away anytime soon.

“Finally, the nurse came back in and said, ‘We’re working on it and trying to get an ambulance,’ and she said, ‘We’ve got one that will be here in about an hour from Paris.’ She looked frazzled and I said, ‘Oh God!’ She said, ‘Welcome to our world.'”

The city cut its ambulance service to save money, now towns nearly an hour away, like Paris, have been helping with emergency calls.

“Sarah Bush has frequently used us, especially since they’ve been struggling getting ambulance coverage.”

They say they hear from the Mattoon hospital about once a day, sometimes more. The director of emergency services at Horizon Health, in Paris, says it just started happening in the last few weeks.

“Calling us, transfer patients from their facility in Mattoon to any other hospital. We’ve gone to Carle, St. Louis, Peoria Children’s, different places people need to be transferred to.”

They’re not the only ones. Charleston’s assistant fire chief says they’ve also received a lot more calls for its ambulance. Both services say, if this continues, they might have to look at changing their staffing and operations.

When there’s a call needed in Mattoon, they first call the private services, then they reach out to the closest towns like Charleston, then they continue reaching out.

It’s not the only thing city leaders voted to eliminate. Tuesday night, they also got rid of the fire department’s assistant chief. The current assistant chief has been reassigned to shift captain. They say it will save them $100,000.

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