La Harpe Ambulance in dire need of volunteers to stay in service

LA HARPE, Ill. (WGEM) – The La Harpe Ambulance Service is in dire need of volunteers in order to stay up and running. Right now, the interim director, Eric Palmer, said they have around a dozen. He said some are more active than others, but more are needed to ensure an ambulance can respond anytime someone calls 911.

“Patient care has always been our number one priority, we have not suffered there at all,” Palmer said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health requires their ambulance to be in service 24/7, but right now they’re unable to do that do to the lack of volunteers.

An EMT class in the spring he said could help turn that around, as part of the struggle is making sure incoming volunteers are certified.

“People have to be properly trained, and have to be willing to take on the job and the responsibilities that are involved with the job,” Palmer said.

If worst came scenario came to fruition and the ambulance in La Harpe no longer existed, an ambulance would have to come from Hancock County EMS in Carthage, which is about 20 minutes away.

Hancock County EMS Director Aaron Feagain said his crews have responded 56 times to La Harpe this year. That’s a combination of mutual aid, or when the ambulance isn’t in service or when they meet a La Harpe ambulance at a half way point.

“We would probably put on a third crew here, a second ambulance out of Carthage, maybe even staff them up there during the day time hours while we look at ‘how do we best fit that northern half of the county,’ ” Feagain said.

The option of having current Hancock County EMS employees stationed at La Harpe Ambulance is impossible, Feagain said, because the two agencies are on a different system.

Feagain is advocating for La Harpe to keep their ambulance service. Currently, he’s trying to help find those interested in volunteering. He’s also preparing for the “what if.”

“No matter what happens, at the end of the day when somebody in La Harpe or the northern part of the county calls 911, we will respond, we will be there for them,” Feagain said.

Feagain said there’s no issue currently if someone in La Harpe or the norther tier of Hancock County calls 911.

Palmer said they currently have five people interested in joining .

To sign up for the class, call their office at 217-659-3011, or message them on Facebook.

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