Officials of Ambulance Rescue 33 meet Monday morning with the medical director of the Peoria Area Emergency Medical System to present a plan they hope will lead toward reinstatement of the ambulance service's suspended operating license.
Kenny Martin, the new day-to-day operations manager of the currently unlicensed ambulance service, called the plan he developed "failsafe."
"The plan is a good one, and I have a proven track record of working with PAEMS to get things done," Martin said Friday. "I'm just very confident about what we've put together."
The plan addresses several of the specific reasons Rescue 33 lost its license for failing to correct problems while it was on probation last August — staffing deficiencies, improper documentation and making calls with expired equipment on board the ambulance.
Martin said he has developed a pool of 40 people to fill a schedule that will sustain coverage of one ambulance 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the station. A second ambulance would serve as an on-call back-up.
The staffed ambulance at the Rescue 33 station would include one paramedic with advanced life support training on duty at all times, teamed with an emergency medical technician with basic or intermediate support training, the two levels below advanced. Eight of the 40 employees in the pool are trained paramedics, although the Martin plan asks only to come back as a designated basic life support service.
"I thought we should try to come back as a strong basic life support service and then immediately begin to work toward achieving advanced life support status," Martin said. "I'd like to do that in three months, but six months is probably a more reasonable time frame."
Having a paramedic on all shifts also would help solve the problems with documentation of calls and expired equipment.
"Paramedics know the right way to do those things and they would then be able to act as mentors to the EMTs to ensure that it all gets done the right way," Martin said.
Three years ago, when he was ambulance administrator for the Peoria Heights Fire Department, Martin worked with PAEMS and its medical director, Cheryl Colbenson, to turn that department from certified basic life support to certified advanced life support. That made the Heights the first city- or village-run ambulance service to offer advanced coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week in Peoria County.
"That was a great accomplishment," Martin said. "The return of Rescue 33 would be bigger than that."
Meanwhile, on a separate track, the judicial committee of the Chillicothe City Council met late Friday afternoon to recommend a vote on an "ambulance service licensing" ordinance be taken at Monday's council meeting. City Attorney Michael Seghetti said that while state statute gives the council the authority to designate an ambulance provider, the new municipal ordinance would give the council the ability to exercise that authority to license and regulate an ambulance service, Seghetti said.
The ordinance could lead to a future vote where the City Council would have to pick between Rescue 33 and Advanced Medical Transport, the Peoria-based advanced life support ambulance service that took over coverage of the area after the suspension.
However, the ambulance coverage area is larger than the city of Chillicothe. The village of Hopewell and five surrounding townships have all expressed support of a re-licensed Rescue 33.