Chillicothe residents voice support for local ambulance service - Peoria, IL - pjstar.com
The Sept. 4 suspension of the Rescue 33 volunteer ambulance service made official what is apparent in Chillicothe - something's got to change if the community is to have quality emergency medical care.
A crowd of residents from Chillicothe and surrounding townships filled the VFW Hall at 1729 N. Santa Fe Ave. on Wednesday.
"Win or lose we are going to have to change the way we operate," Rescue 33 President Ron Hedden told the group.
The meeting of the Tea Party Patriots Chillicothe became a forum focusing on the future of the free ambulance service.
The group brainstormed possible solutions, but the future of Rescue 33 remains unclear.
State Rep. David Leitch, R-Peoria, also attended and addressed the group.
A referendum on the November ballot will ask: "Shall the city of Chillicothe levy a tax for ambulance service in an amount not to exceed .25 percent of the value, as equalized or assessed by the Illinois Department of Revenue, of all taxable property in the city, beginning with tax year 2012 (payable in 2013)?"
The referendum does not name Rescue 33 specifically, and if Rescue 33 obtains a license, it could become the beneficiary of such a tax. If not, the tax would allow a different service to be supported.
"We like Rescue 33. They've done a great job for 40 years, and if there's any way we can help them do something, we're going to do it," Mayor Troy A. Childers said.
Hedden said the program would require about $400,000 to operate under full compliance with EMS regulations. The tax would not generate the entire amount.
"I think the people know to keep a quality service, they'll have to pay for it in some way, shape or form," Tea Party Patriots Chillicothe co-coordinator Dave Hirtz said.
Since the suspension of Rescue 33 just over a week ago, Advanced Medical Transport has been covering the Chillicothe area.
Some of the community members expressed disapproval of the expensive alternative, but Hedden lauded the agency's effort.
"Thank them now. Don't punish them," Hedden said. "They are more assisting us than they are trying to take us over."
Several audience members applauded the history of volunteers and community service demonstrated by Rescue 33.
While the service was free, many who used the ambulance chose to make donations to the program. Some who used to the service did not donate, and some donated who never used the ambulance.