AMT asks Chillicothe residents to think with heads, not heart

By Audrey Williams

January 18, 2013 Updated Jan 18, 2013 at 10:33 PM CDT

CHILLICOTHE, Ill -- In Chillicothe emotions are high and so is support for the long-time, all-volunteer Rescue 33 ambulance service.

Last August, the Peoria area EMS board revoked Rescue 33's license after what they call numerous problems.

In the meantime A-M-T out of Peoria has taken over their calls.

While Rescue 33 works to be re-instated the EMS board is asking the Chillicothe city council to decide which provider they would like going forward.

"Right now I'm looking for what somebody's done for 47 years and they've done a good job. I see AMT that is very qualified. For us to be the ones to decide even a little bit, I don't know that that's fair," said Chillicothe Mayor Troy Childers.

At a public forum Thursday night the community rallied around the volunteer service.

To that, Mayor Childers said, "I would ask them to think more with their mind than their heart. But I have that problem myself, so it's hard for me to tell them something that I'm not sure that I could do, really."

Doctor George Heavesy, the Medical Director for AMT, said he believes residents need to keep emotions aside as they make this important decision, "As a medical expert in the field of pre-hospital care, and having done this for 28 years, there is distinct differences in the quality and level of care that would be delivered to the citizens. That is first and foremost, not a popularity contest. My hats off to the volunteers. This is about the delivery of quality medical care."

AMT offers advanced life support paramedics, while Rescue 33 would offer Basic Life Support service with plans to offer ALS in the coming years.

"If it's life-threatening right now and you're one of the 5% that has that happen, if you was one of the 5%, how would you really feel about who was taking care of you?, " said Mayor Childers.

He is not sure when council will make a recommendation. Even if the choice is Rescue 33, there is no guarantee it would get a license from the EMS board.

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