Ambulance Rescue 33 officials would like the Chillicothe City Council to vote its preference for an ambulance service for the city at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, believing the vote is the only way to move toward restoration of its suspended service.
“It is important that the city indicates its preference as soon as possible so that Peoria Area Emergency Medical System can start its process,” wrote Chris Cassidy, the attorney for Rescue 33, in a recently released statement. “Furthermore, it is important that Chillicothe makes a decision, because refusing to do so is the same as saying, ‘We do not even want to give Ambulance Rescue 33 a chance to go through the PAEMS qualification procedure.’”
Alderman Gary Sharp, whose wife, Janet, has been a Rescue 33 officer for 18 years, intended to place an item on Monday’s meeting agenda forcing an up-or-down vote on the council’s support of the ambulance service. He said he was asked this week not to do that. As of the close of business on Tuesday there was no item on the agenda dealing with Chillicothe’s ambulance service. The deadline to place an item on the council’s Monday agenda is noon Thursday.
“It’s too soon to say if it will be discussed (at the Monday meeting),” Mayor Troy Childers said Tuesday. “I’m still not convinced the council should be put in the position of being the final determiner of this.”
Rescue 33 was permanently suspended in September because of inadequate staffing and funding. Peoria’s Advanced Medical Transportation has provided emergency service to the city, the village of Hopewell and four adjacent townships since Sept. 4.
After rejecting a proposal to combine services with AMT, Rescue 33 filed a new business and operations plan with PAEMS. Its director, Dr. Cheryl Colbenson, has said she will not review the document until after the City Council has voted its preference.
Andrew Rand, the executive director of AMT, said he will meet Monday with Childers and Alderman Chris Boyer, the chairman of the council committee that oversees emergency services.
“Our proposal to combine services with Rescue 33 is still on the table,” Rand said.
But that’s not what Rescue 33 sees as its future. Hundreds attended a meeting at Three Sisters Park last Thursday that was mostly a pep rally for Rescue 33’s attempted resurrection. Alderman Sharp said Tuesday he viewed that meeting as clear support for the City Council to show its support for Rescue 33.
“I think it’s a foregone conclusion that everyone in Chillicothe wants Rescue 33 to come back under any conditions,” Sharp said Tuesday.
He also said it is not a conflict of interest for him to vote on issues regarding Rescue 33 because he is married to its treasurer.
Page 2 of 2 - “The bottom line is, it’s my own decision,” he said. “I make up my own mind.”
While the issue has turned aggressively complex, Cassidy, in his statement, broke it down to three simple parts: a council vote of support, a PAEMS determination of whether Rescue 33 has met its obligation to prove its capability of service and a final decision of what governmental entities decide ambulance service for the areas outside of the city of Chillicothe.
“The city is only being asked to decide for its own jurisdiction,” Cassidy wrote. “Therefore it is hoped that the city of Chillicothe will also take a stance at its Jan. 28th meeting and indicate its preference.”