South Jacksonville Ambulance Service to Cease Operation August 1st

By Jeremy Coumbes on July 3, 2020 at 9:11am

The Village of South Jacksonville will need to fully rely on one emergency service from outside sources starting on august 1st.

The Village of South Jacksonville chose to defund the village ambulance service by a vote of 4 to 1 at Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Action items to both fully and partially fund the ambulance each failed by a 4 to 1 vote.

Trustee Tom Jordan gave the lone vote in support of the ambulance and says he believes the ambulance is more about community service and less about revenue.

I was disappointed, I’ve always been a proponent of the emergency services and police and fire department. I think the ambulance provides a very valuable service for us out here and it backs up Lifestar. Many of the trustees think of it as a dollars and sense thing and I don’t think it has to be a money maker, but a service for the community.”

The ambulance has been a continuing topic of concern by the board, with trustees citing the inability of the ambulance service to be self sufficient in funding, causing the village to annually make up the difference out of the general fund.

Trustees have previously also raised concerns that much of the time the ambulance is used for calls outside of the village, and that a majority of the time, Lifestar Ambulance in Jacksonville responds to medical emergencies in the village.

South Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Evans Jr. says the village has maintained mutual service agreements with other districts to back each other up on calls.

The trustees agreed that the ambulance service will continue through the end of July to allow neighboring EMS agencies to be notified of the decision and to adjust their services to make up the difference.

Evans says now both the village and those other EMS districts will be hurt by the boards decision.

I’ve got to let the other agencies know, that we have worked with over the years with our mutual aid agreements that by the end of July we will no longer be able to fulfill those with our ambulance. To give them time to prepare to be able to handle these additional calls that we are not going to be able to. This is a huge loss to the community and surrounding areas.”

Village President Harry Jennings says the ambulance will be retired in August, but the village will not be putting it up for sale in the immediate future.

The vote was to defund the ambulance so right now what we are looking at is, it will be active the rest of this month, and then after that it will be mothballed, it will be placed in storage until future discussions to see whether or not we just going to completely disband it, or maybe there is still some future discussions on whether or not there is some way we can fund it and get back to revenue generating and can be more self sustaining.”

In other action items the board agreed that the Splash Pad at Godfrey Park will remain closed this season due to phase 4 public health restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board will also work on a resolution for renovation work to Dewey Park in a future meeting. Jennings says Board Trustee Jason Hill has presented some good plans for the park, and the trustees want to develop a cohesive plan to then move forward with taking bids on the project.