Posts Tagged Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service

Mattoon Fire Department news

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Some of the 12 candidates for Mattoon City Council in the April 6 election differ sharply on whether the city should revive the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service or leave it inactive.

In between those two opposing points, candidates suggested having a third party analyze ambulance service date and have the department’s trained paramedics respond to more emergency medical calls with Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service. The candidates said the city should place a priority on meeting its fire, police, and other public safety responsibilities.

Candidate viewpoints:

the city needs maximum police staffing for public and officer safety. On firefighter staffing, the city is at an impasse in negotiating a new contract with their union and is in related appellate litigation.  The city is not in a position to bring back the ambulance service due to budget constraints and to parameters for private ambulance coverage.

the city has been trying to get staffing equitability across the fire, police, and public works departments, which all play public safety roles. If firefighter staffing stays too large for a town of 18,000, the other departments will get less resources and negotiations with the union have been unsuccessful, so the city is pursuing arbitration and litigation on behalf of all residents.

the city has gone three years now without its ambulance service and probably will not reinstate it and that a reinstated ambulance service would not cover its operating expenses. Without an ambulance service, the city needs to reduce firefighter staffing as part of efforts to curb rising personnel costs and that the city, has a monster pension problem.

as society has changed, crime and demand for police protection has grown. The city needs to maintain the proper number of officers to protect citizens. Public safety also includes fire and public works, so the city must seek staffing balance. The city cannot afford to be in the ambulance business when there are private companies providing this service.

the city should not reinstate the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service at this time but should instead continue to encourage the development of the ambulance services in the private sector.

the city should hire more patrol officers and detectives, plus drug task force personnel to respond to the substance abuse increase. The city also should finalize a firefighter contract to provide stability and a more accurate look at public safety levels. The new council and the union may find common ground on staffing between the current 22 and the contract required 30.

the city will have to wait until related litigation concludes before it addresses any future for a city ambulance service. If that service is reinstated, the city should utilize federal funds that provide reimbursement for caring for patients who receive financial aid. In the meantime, the city should still utilize firefighters’ paramedic training.

the city needs a public safety strategic plan to prepare for annexations, economic development and more and could build a grant funded, energy efficient fire station east of downtown to replace the dilapidated city hall station and serve Mattoon’s eastward spread. The city also should use street corner cameras to deter crime and provide evidence when needed.

the city can not further cut fire, police, and public works staffing while also maintaining the current public safety level. To achieve a balanced budget, the city needs to drive economic growth and cut wasteful spending from the top down. The city is overlooking the ambulance service’s potential financial benefits.

the city needs to work with both the fire and police departments to dissolve the friction between those two organizations.  “We are one city, one government, we need to work together.” That would help enhance public safety.

the city should ensure all its public safety departments are adequately staffed and have what they need to do their jobs. The current council did not fulfill its duty to provide for public safety when it eliminated the ambulance service, and that choice has cost the city a lot of money.

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

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In less than a year, Mattoon has gone from three ambulance services to one. Now, the city council is placing a moratorium on a new service trying to come to town for up to the next six months.

The city pulled the fire department out of ambulance business in July 2018, citing budget issues. Last week, Dunn’s Ambulance Service announced it was leaving the city due to staffing issues. Mitchell-Jerdan is now the only ambulance provider left.

The local firefighters union is still trying to get the city to reconsider the ambulance service as they also negotiate a new labor contract. Union president Bart Owen says Mitchell-Jerdan has had issues fulfilling the need on its own in the past.

“It hate to say ‘wait and see’ again, but we’ll have to watch this,” Owen said. “We are not staffing [our ambulances]. They are in storage…they are technically still an option here. But we’re being told they’re not an option at this time.”

But the mayor and city council have remained firm: the city-run ambulance service was cost this city money and wasn’t viable long term.

“Do you want us to cut police officers?” asked city commissioner Preston Owen. “Do you want us to cut ambulance services duplicated? Do you want us to stop filling potholes? That’s the choice.”

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

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Taylorville-based Dunn’s Ambulance has given notice that it plans to close its Mattoon operation sometime on or before May 31, which would leave Mattoon based Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service as the sole provider of ambulance services in Mattoon. Dunn’s has been operating in Mattoon since 2008 and has an ambulance station at 1821 Marshall Ave.

The city ended the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service on July 25, but the department has retained advanced life support equipment on its fire trucks to provide backup service as needed. The fire department operated an advanced life support ambulance service from 2010 to 2018. City officials have said that the department’s ambulance service lost money and duplicated the work of private providers. Firefighters countered that their service generated needed city revenue and provided essential coverage for Mattoon.

Mitchell-Jerdan has increased its ambulance and staffing levels since the fire department’s ambulance service ended and it has provided backup for Dunn’s as needed. There have been a few instances in recent months of Charleston Fire Department ambulances needing to be dispatched to Mattoon for backup.

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

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It’s been over a month since the fire department’s ambulance service ended. Now some families are feeling the effects of it.

When Jace MacDonald has a seizure, a response from emergency services can get tough for his family. Recently he had a seizure while they were running errands. His mother called for help. She stopped when she saw an ambulance. Two of them drove past her. Then she took matters into her own hands    

“We drove by Mitchell-Jerdan. [They] Didn’t haven’t any ambulances there. I took him to Mattoon Fire. I walked in with him postictal and they cared for him through his entire postictal phase. Monitoring his heart rate. His oxygen saturation.Stayed there unless I had to administer his emergency medication and were very very helpful,” says MacDonald.

Alissa MacDonald says she was grateful to those firefighters. She took her concerns to city council, hoping for sympathy or a solution; but, she says there was no response at all. 

“Their job on the city council is to represent the citizens of Mattoon and if a citizen of Mattoon comes with a legitimate concern and is respectful and professional I feel like it’s their obligation to express their concerns whether or not they agree with me, the fact that they didn’t have the decency to address me is horrific,”states MacDonald. 

We reached out the private ambulance services that have taken on the emergency calls. They say when they’re pulled away to transfer calls which takes away from responding locally. Those can take them as far as an hour or two away.

Still, MacDonald says the council should have been ready for it all. 

“They’re lack of preparation is not my emergency. It’s not my son’s emergency and I should not have to suffer the consequences. He certainly shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences because of their poor planning,” says MacDonald.   

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

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Nearly one month has passed since the city ended the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service on July 25. The two private ambulance providers operating in Mattoon have been adding to their staff and fleets as they adjust to handling all of the calls for emergency medical services. The private providers have been assisted at times by the Mattoon Fire Department, which has retained its advanced life support equipment, and by the Charleston Fire Department’s ambulance service.

The number of calls for emergency medical services in Mattoon totals well more than 300 per month on average, according to fire department records. Fire Chief Tony Nichols said there were 13 times between July 25 and Aug. 18 that the Coles County 911 system needed to dispatch other ambulance services to help while the two private providers were busy with other calls.

The Mattoon Fire Department’s calls for backup included needing to use its advanced life support equipment at the scenes of two vehicle crashes and at one medical emergency. Charleston Fire Department ambulances transported three patients. Neoga or Sullivan ambulances were dispatched a total of three to four times, but were called off en route.

Ambulance providers in Mattoon are still helping transfer patients from Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center to higher level trauma centers, although the health center also has Abbott EMS ambulances assist with transfers if available. 

Dunn’s has been keeping three ambulances in operation in Mattoon during peak hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and two overnight. Their goal is to soon have three ambulances available 24 hours per day in Mattoon. They has been hiring more staff, but competition for applicants in the region has increased now that Abbott EMS is providing an ambulance service in Effingham and that Horizon Health’s Paris Community Hospital has started its own ambulance service.

Dunn’s and Mitchell-Jerdan are working together to try to ensure that there are always at least two ambulances available in Mattoon while still transferring patients for Sarah Bush Lincoln.

Resident Alissa MacDonald told the city council on Tuesday that her 22-month-old son, Jace, collapsed last weekend at home due to an epileptic seizure. MacDonald said she and her husband were already aware from the scanner that Mattoon had no available ambulances at the time and neither did Charleston. She said they later found out that the nearest available ambulance was 22 minutes away in Sullivan. MacDonald said she is a neonatal intensive care unit nurse and her husband is a critical care paramedic, so they were able to provide medical assistance for their child. However, she asked the council to consider what could happen to other families during such situations or to people in other emergencies, such as a shooting, if an ambulance is not readily available to help them.

“This town, in the wake of a school shooting (Sept. 20 at Mattoon High School), voted to move forward with eliminating the MFD ambulance system,” MacDonald said. “My own stepchildren were in that building last fall. And if God forbid they would have been injured, it would be my expectation that help be there immediately. One would think that after such a tragedy our city council would take action to increase safety in this city, not take it away.”

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

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Medical calls Thursday evening and an accident Friday afternoon resulted in Mattoon emergency personnel calling in ambulances from out of town for help with patient care and transport. This comes after the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service ended July 25 in a move directed by the city council that drew criticism in the community. The council has cited budget concerns for the decision.

“We were short ambulances,” MFD Chief Tony Nichols said Friday. Thursday night, as well, a shortage of ambulances to cover Mattoon was seen, according to Nichols. “CFD had to come over cover for Dunn’s two times. They were both medicals. I don’t know the severity of them,” he said. “They did dispatch our ALS engines out. We were able to respond and start care until CFD arrived and then they took over.”

Greg Jerdan, owner of Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service said finding personnel is not a problem for his service. “This morning for a couple-hour period we were down to one ambulance,” Jerdan said Friday. “We were fully staffed at that time. We are fully staffed and for the next coming two-week period in our staffing time we’re a minimum of two ambulances or three deep. “Today there was a two-hour period when we were down to one rig and on a rare occasion that’s what happens and that’s what did happen — that’s what mutual aid is for.”

Jerdan, said the auto accident occurred during a time when Mitchell-Jerdan was temporarily short staffed.

“We are not on 911 this week,” he said, explaining that this means Dunn’s is first to be called out for a 911 call on Mitchell-Jerdan’s off week, and vice versa. “Every other week is rotated between Dunn’s and us. We were only short-staffed for a period of a few hours under a rare situation (and) something happened beyond our control,” Jerdan said. “This is not a situation that is common. Since the City of Mattoon has gotten out of the ambulance business, I believe the events have been very calm and handled quite properly.”

“If it’s not going to be able to be handled (by two private ambulance services), then we have some options of either requiring a certain number of ambulances every day or opening up a third ambulance service,” City Administrator Kyle Gill said. “I hope this is just a growing pain. The ordinance that we passed does not say how many ambulances they have to run on a daily basis. It’s all on performance. Of course the less ambulances they have available, the performance is going to go down.”

“Some of the things that happened I’m still looking into,” he said. “The bad car accident … there was three people that needed to be transported so it took three ambulances, that way Charleston had to get pulled over. That’s not what we want to see happen of course. We don’t want that to continue.”

Mattoon emergency services requesting aid from other communities is not unprecedented.”There’s always been times when other agencies would come over even when we had three ambulances,” Gill said. “There are times when everything happens all at once; we just don’t want that to be a common occurrence.

Bart Owen, president of Mattoon Firefighters Local 691, said there is a need for more ambulances than are now running in Mattoon.

thanks Dennis

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

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The Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service ended at the scheduled time of 7 a.m. Wednesday, and the two private services in Mattoon are now handling all of the local ambulance calls. City officials set the July 25 end date after the Mattoon City Council voted on July 18, 2017 to eliminate the fire department’s ambulance service as a cost-cutting measure.

Firefighters are disappointed that they will no longer be able to provide an ambulance service for Mattoon, however they appreciate that the city has opted to keep the fire department’s advanced life support equipment in operation.

Mattoon firefighters will no longer provide emergency medical transportation, but they will be dispatched to emergency scenes if an ambulance is not immediately available. Firefighters will be able to provide advanced life support care on scene if needed until an ambulance crew arrives to take the patient to the hospital.

Bart Owen, president of Mattoon Firefighters Local 691, said firefighters on Wednesday transferred advanced life support equipment from the department’s three former ambulances to three fire trucks. 

The two private services in operation in Mattoon are Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service and Dunn’s Ambulance. Mitchell-Jerdan, based in Mattoon, has provided an ambulance since 1934. Dunn’s, based in Taylorville, has been operating in Mattoon since 2008. The fire department’s ambulance service started full time in 2011.

The city plans to keep the fire department’s three former ambulances in storage for the time being. The city and the firefighters union are still going through grievance processes regarding the ambulance service elimination and an arbitration process for completing a new contract.

City officials have said that the fire department’s ambulance service lost money and duplicated the work of private providers. The firefighters union countered that the department’s service generated needed revenue for the city and provided essential ambulance coverage for Mattoon.

thanks Dennis

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Mattoon Fire District news (more)

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The Mattoon City Council ratified new regulations for private ambulance services and heard several concerns regarding the scheduled July 25 end of the fire department’s ambulance service.

Top fire department officials questioned whether the city is ready to switch over all ambulance calls to private services. Representatives from one of the two current private services, Dunn’s Ambulance, said they will be ready but delays for this switch have made it difficult to hire crews. A representative for a possible third service, Abbott EMS, sought more information about the application process.

The city has revised its regulations in preparation for the July 25 switch. The new regulations include the requirement that ambulances must arrive at the scene of advanced life support calls within eight minutes of being dispatched. Ambulance services must report this data to the city.

Fire Chief Tony Nichols said he is concerned about the city entering uncharted territory if it completely eliminates the fire department’s ambulance service on July 25. He urged the council to keep the department’s advance life support equipment ready as a backup to help handle the call volume.

Assistant Fire Chief Sean Junge said feels that firefighters, as stakeholders in the emergency response system, were given little opportunity to provide input on the new ambulance regulations while private services had a lot of input. Junge said he cannot recommend approval for the new regulations due to his concerns about this document.

The council voted on July 18, 2017 to eliminate the fire department’s ambulance service. City officials have said that this service loses money and duplicates the work of private providers. Mattoon Firefighters Local 691 has countered that the department’s service generates needed revenue for the city and provides essential ambulance coverage for Mattoon.

Casey Schmitz, operations manager for Dunn’s, said the city has asked private services to be ready to handle all of the ambulance calls, but uncertainty about when this change will take place has made it difficult to hire crews. Nevertheless, she said both Dunn’s and Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service plan to have additional crew members and ambulances in place to continue serving the community.”We are not going to leave anybody high and dry,” Schmitz said. She added that Dunn’s welcomes partnering with firefighter crews that have basic and advanced life support equipment. She said this backup service was standard practice before the fire department’s started its own ambulance service several years ago.

Brian Gerth, operations manager for Abbott EMS, asked several questions about how the Coles County 911 system rotates calls to the different ambulance services and about the application process to become a provider under the city’s new regulations. City officials advised that applicants do not need to have an office in Mattoon when they apply but will need to have one before they operate ambulances in Mattoon.

Bart Owen, president of the firefighters union, urged the city to keep the fire department’s advanced life support capabilities in place as a backup. He also questioned whether the city has a plan in place for backup service and how it will have time to process ambulance service applications from current and possible new providers before July 25.

The city and the firefighters union are continuing to try to negotiate a new contract, and they met with a mediator on Tuesday. The current contract expired on April 30 but remains in effect until a new one is reached. Staffing levels have been a contentious issue in the contract negotiations due to the possibility of the number of firefighters being cut further due to the ambulance service elimination.

Owen said there are now eight legal proceedings regarding various related grievances and court filings that will need some type of resolution before the arbitration process can be completed. He said the union has offered to make concessions, including cuts of three staff members and other measures that would save $663,000 per year.

thanks Dennis

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

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As the end date approaches for the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service, Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service and Dunn’s Ambulance are getting ready to expand their fleet and staffs.

The fire department ambulance service is set to end July 25. The firefighters’ union is pushing to keep the fire department’s advanced life support capabilities as a backup for the two private ambulance providers. 

On July 18, the Mattoon City Council voted to get rid of the fire department’s ambulance service to save money.

Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service is looking to increase its fleet from three to four ambulances, add more staff, and to make upgrades. Dunn’s has two ambulances in Mattoon and will add a third before July 25. Dunn’s also plans to hire more ambulance crews in Mattoon.

City officials in Mattoon said the fire department’s ambulance service duplicates the work of the private providers. The city filed a lawsuit against the union in May. Mattoon officials said the city is coming up with updated regulations for private ambulance services.

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