The Northern Tazewell Fire Protection District will contract with the Washington Fire Department for full-time ambulance service, starting Tuesday.
Jim Campbell is a trustee for the all-volunteer fire protection district that serves parts of East Peoria, Washington, and nearby rural areas.
"This was kind of a win-win for us," said Campbell. "We've been transporting since 1970, but due to financial reasons, we were forced to shut the doors."
Campbell said this agreement allows Washington to man a second, full-time ambulance out of Sunnyland, while also saving Northern Tazewell the money it needs to continue fire protection services for the area.
"The Washington Fire Department is just happy that we're able to provide it, and able to keep service running down in this area," said Washington Fire Chief Brett Brown.
Brown said it would normally take a year to work out this kind of arrangement, but this deal was sealed in just a few months. The chief said a Washington ambulance will be based out of Northern Tazewell's fire station. They're working out an arrangement to transfer ownership of Northern Tazewell's ambulances to Washington, he said.
East Peoria cut its longstanding dual dispatch agreement for rescue calls with Northern Tazewell back in July as a cost-cutting move, after the city cut its budget by 15% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. East Peoria projected a savings of $150,000 by covering all advanced life support (ALS) calls within the portion of Northern Tazewell's jurisdiction that falls within the city's corporate limits.
The agreement announced Monday will cover Northern Tazewell's territory outside of the corporate limits of East Peoria, including rural areas and the western edge of the city of Washington. The city of East Peoria will continue covering the Robein and Sunnyland areas which fall within city limits.
Washington will continue to base a full-time ambulance out of the fire station on Wilmor Road, as well.
No additional cost is projected to taxpayers for the service expansion.
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