The Journal Star published an article on the Peoria Heights Ambulance Service on February 7, 2007. It is worth reading to see what is left out.
Peoria Heights has decided to pay two EMT’s to staff their ambulance for 12 hours each day. They will continue their Basic care for the people of Peoria Heights rather than contract out to Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) for Paramedic care. AMT is the only Peoria based Paramedic and transport service and is strongly supported by Peoria’s three hospitals and Peoria Area EMS Service (PAEMSS).
Peoria Heights Village trustee Wayne Baum has argued for contracting with AMT. He stated that the difference between Basic care and Paramedic care is “tremendous”. Paramedic care (advanced life support) has been shown to save lives for people that call 911 with chest pain and shortness of breath. Mr. Baum also stated that there was conflict of interest involved with the vote in Peoria Heights because one of the trustees is a VOLUNTEER fire fighter for Peoria Heights.
To invoke conflict of interest here seems quite ironic. Mr. Baum’s connections with OSF, are well known, and OSF is AMT’s biggest supporter in Peoria. Also, the Peoria Fire Department (PFD) has remained mired at Basic and non transport for many years, while OSF’s Emergency Department Director and former Project Medical Director, Dr. George Hevesy, obtains a salary from AMT and OSF. The conflict of interest in Peoria regarding the highly lucrative ambulance business is significant and does not serve Peorians well.
In Peoria Heights, those in favor of hiring EMT’s stated that keeping service in Peoria Heights ensures two ambulances are always available in the village and that the new system would allow the ambulance service to upgrade to a higher level of service ( Intermediate or Paramedic) in the future.
The Peoria Heights Fire Department is well aware that AMT is not always available when 911 is called and that AMT will actually call the PFD to go to the scene and provide care. The PFD can only provide Basic care. Even if the PFD has a licensed Paramedic, they are not allowed to give advanced life support if AMT is not on the scene and asking for their help.
The Peoria Heights village decision was wise as they are trying to avoid the unfortunate EMS situation in Peoria.
John A. Carroll, M.D.