Ambulance Service Shortfalls

Ambulance Service Shortfalls
By: Arnold Wyrick

(Franklin Co., IL)--Franklin County residents have been living without enough emergency medical care for months. Since the first of the year there's only been one fully equipped ambulance crew to respond to every ones emergency needs.

The lone unit has to cover all 360 square miles of the county. The situation is frustrating some Franklin County 911 Dispatchers. "We are on the phone with these people and we're on the phone with their loved ones when they're dying, and we can't get help to them. Or we can tell them your help is on the way, but it's going to be 25 minutes," says Melanie Turner a 911 Dispatcher. "We're worried that we're going to lose more lives then we save," said Turner.

But some relief maybe on the way. Four private companies have contacted Franklin County Commissioners and expressed an interest in bringing in more ambulances. "We've had instances where we've had to call in ambulances from Carterville and Pinckneyville to respond to calls that really need a response time of 10 to 15 minutes. And it's taking up to 25 minutes," Turner said.

Franklin County residents hope that no one else will need to suffer while county commissioners make a decision on what to do about the lack of emergency care to them. " I know in Benton we always need ambulance service and they're always slow coming to the scene," says Debbie Mathias of Benton.

Mathias isn't alone in her concerns over the lack of ambulances in the county. "People get sick and you can't run all the way 10 miles away or 15 miles away to take care of an illness you've got or something even worse," says Robert Nesler of Buckner. " When you need it, you need it right now!" exclaimed Nesler. "So everyday we're just hopeful that we get through another day without somebody dying," says Melanie Turner as she turned to answer another 911 call.

Franklin County Commissioners will be sitting down with the four companies this coming Monday night to review each one's proposals.