Rescue 33 asks for city and community support to move forward

By Audrey Williams

January 17, 2013 Updated Jan 18, 2013 at 12:12 PM CDT

CHILLICOTHE, Ill. -- Chillicothe residents have a lot of questions when it comes to the future of their ambulance service. After being in limbo for months, they are starting to get more answers.

Last August, the Peoria Area EMS Review board suspended the license for Rescue 33, an all volunteer and free ambulance service in Chillicothe. Since then, AMT out of Peoria has taken over emergency calls.

Now Rescue 33 volunteers want to have their license reinstated. Rescue 33 President, Ron Hedden said they are in the midst of what he calls a "turf war" with AMT.

"We would prefer to have the chance to get back, get our license back and perform the way the EMS office expected us to. We deserve the right to have that chance," said Hedden.

The EMS Review Board directed Chillicothe officials to decide on the ambulance service they want to use going forward.

Hedden said, "We feel that's unfair on Chillicothe. We feel that should have been a community decision. Not to challenge what the EMS has asked, we have approached all the communities and have the community support, now we're seeking the city's support."

Several city officials said they do not want make the decision alone. They want to hear from the community.

Officials got plenty of community response on Thursday night at a public forum, with an overwhelming majority of residents in support of Rescue 33.

"They are a community-based ambulance service and they have been here for a very long time, and we want to keep them around," said Amber Chase, a long-time Chillicothe resident.

If selected and re-instated, Hedden said Rescue 33 would include full-time paid staff and would no longer be a free service.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.