Mattoon ambulance battle continues, council pulls regulations off agenda

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MATTOON, Ill. (WAND) — The Mattoon City Council pulled a measure regulating private ambulance companies off the agenda Tuesday night.

The move comes as a battle between fire fighters and the city rages on. The burning issue: ambulance services in the city.

The council voted to end city-funded ambulance services provided by the fire department in July 2017. Since that vote, the council and the Mattoon Firefighters Association have become tangled in a series of lawsuits and judgments — the latest calling on the department to end their ambulance service by May 1st. As of this writing, the Mattoon Fire Department is still operating its ambulances.

"We're not here to make money," said Mattoon Firefighters Association President Bart Owen. "But we do offset our money here right now."

The city disagrees.

"If you take everything — all the expenses — into consideration, we're losing a lot of money," said city administrator Kyle Gill. "Somewhere around $600,000 a year."

The fire department works in a three week rotation with two private ambulance companies in the city with each entity taking one week as the primary responder.

Commissioners pulled the ordinance regulating those private companies Tuesday night due to concerns on language and oversight. If passed, the fire chief would have been in charge of making sure those private companies performed up to standard.

The move will give city commissioners more time to redraw the ordinance after meeting with the concerned parties.

But for the firefighters union, it's another tough break.

"We're fighting hard to stay here," Owen said. "But if we're not going to be, we want to make sure the people are served the best they can [be]."

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