With Rescue 33 officials being optimistic about the ambulance provider's future of regaining a license, the Peoria Area EMS Medical Director Cheryl Colbenson may be applying the brakes, so to speak.
Through a press release, Colbenson responded to the news released Monday night at the Chillicothe City Council meeting.
"I am disappointed that Ron Hedden has decided to comment publicly since I have had no discussion with him for months. Telling the public they could get re-instated after 30 days is misleading since no timeline was discussed at Monday's meeting. Additionally, telling the public a new system application and business plan could be submitted today is misleading as well. A new business plan would reflect Mr. Martin's vision for the EMS Agency. If such a business plan was ready for submission to the EMS Office, I would have expected him to bring it to our meeting," wrote Colbenson.
Kenny Martin, who is Rescue 33's director of operations, met with Colbenson earlier on Monday. Hedden told aldermen that if the squad had new paperwork to submit the next day (Tuesday), which it did not have ready, it would be about 30 days.
"One of the stipulations for accepting the new system application is complete transparency of the 'new Rescue 33' to the public. This includes informing the public about Rescue 33 relating to level of service, billing of EMS calls, and ensuring a sustainable, qualified, quality EMS service in the future. Mr. Martin has stated he would inform the media on these issues to ensure transparency regarding Rescue 33’s EMS service. By having Mr. Hedden provide public comment when he was not present at Monday's meeting jeopardizes the planned transparency and further disseminates misinformation. It is that conduct of the leadership team which has led to my reluctance up to this point to move forward with the process for reinstating Rescue 33's license. I have worked with Mr. Martin in the past in his successful reorganization and upgrade of Peoria Heights Fire Department EMS agency," Colbenson wrote.
While Rescue 33 has not been able to make calls since September due to Colbenson pulling its license due to staffing deficiencies and response times, Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois has been serving the area. Rescue 33 was a basic life support squad whereas AMT is an advanced life support squad.
"Regardless of which agency will be providing EMS coverage for Chillicothe, I want the citizens of the surrounding townships to know that the PAEMS office will be looking at coverage area to ensure they have timely access to EMS care. I have received feedback from members of those communities about their concern regarding EMS coverage and will be addressing this issue," Colbenson wrote.