The Mattoon City Council's decision to eliminate the fire department's ambulance service was not only disturbing, it raised more questions than it answered:
- If the fire department collects $700,000 a year from health insurance claims of those residents who use the public ambulance, doesn't that pretty much pay for the public ambulance service?
- Is the training provided to private ambulance personnel of the same quality as that provided to our fighter-paramedics? And do they have any accountability to the city for personnel background checks, appropriate certifications, and operational template? The private services claim to add enough medic units to fill the demand.
- What is the personnel turnover rate at the private ambulance service? Fire department paramedics are statistically career oriented. Private ambulance service employees move on to other opportunities that compensate them better. History has taught us that the market cannot produce enough paramedics fast enough to replace those leaving.
- How often are the residents of Mattoon going to be at risk when the private ambulance service is busy transporting patients to medical facilities miles from our city?
- Where are the studies by the city council that show this is a safe decision? I'm not talking about council members opinions, I'm asking about empirical data.
- How on earth can four council members so hastily (recklessly) vote to eliminate this vital medical service when so many of our citizens appeared before them with so many questions and complaints?
- Why did the council ignore the advice of the experts? The Fire Chief, and the Assistant Chief strongly stated that the fire department should not terminate the ambulance service. Dismissing the counsel of the experts is very irresponsible.
- How can the Mattoon City Council place a price on the lives and safety of our residents?
Amye Reynolds, Mattoon