BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Many people in Boone County could lose their ambulance service next year.
Fire District #2 has a plan, but it means more in taxes.
“An accident scene where there’s internal bleeding or something like that, every minute counts,” said Boone County resident Jim Dooley
Boone County voters will decide on Tuesday if Fire District #2 will get their ambulance service. The referendum is for two, full-staffed ambulances with 24/7 service.
Boone County Fire Protection District #2 Chief Brian Kunce said that it is a necessity.
“If you look at this building and the fire apparatus, the community owns this,” Kunce said. “This is their fire department, and they need to have their own ambulance that is dedicated to them.”
The cost is about $130 per year on a $100,000 house. Kunce said that the district had been using ambulance service through the hospital, but that contract is ending. The district will have to rely on surrounding communities for help if the referendum does not pass.
“If you have someone who is not breathing, cardiac arrest, trauma related incident, time is a factor,” Kunce said. “Just waiting 20-30 minutes just for an ambulance to get on scene, it’s going to take you a lot longer to get to the hospital to get that critical care.”
Dooley and Bob Koehn both live in the district. They believe that the benefits of having a specific ambulance ready to answer a call is worth the tax.
“My neighbor needed an ambulance and there were no ambulances in the county because they were out doing their transports, and it took them I believe 20 or 25 minutes to get an ambulance from a different department,” Koehn said. “The cost is minimal to a life, you gotta figure out or think about ‘what is your life worth, what is a loved one’s life worth.’ If it’s not worth $400, I guess that’s kinda sad.”
Kunce stressed that the decision could be life or death for some.
“We didn’t want to do this, but we were forced to, we don’t have any other options,” Kunce said. “You only have once chance at life, and we want to make sure we provide the most advanced care for our citizens.”
Kunce said that the district will still use the help of other districts if needed, but he does not want to rely on that for day-to-day calls.
Polls will open at 6 a.m. Tuesday and will close at 7 p.m.