Rural communities struggle to afford ambulance services amid rising costs

Rural communities struggle to afford ambulance services amid rising costs
Published: Oct. 29, 2023 at 11:27 PM CDT
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HILLSDALE, Ill. (KWQC) - Rural communities are struggling to afford and maintain quality ambulance coverage amid rising costs.

Last month, ambulance coverage in western Rock Island county was put in jeopardy after the village of Reynolds made a request to withdraw from a cost-sharing trio with Andalusia and Buffalo Prairie.

For Hillsdale and Rapids City fire protection districts, they have already gone from three districts to two, after Cordova withdrew from their cost-sharing trio earlier this year.

Back in the spring, Hillsdale and Rapids City signed on to a 368 thousand dollar contract with Genesis ambulance services in Port Byron. However, the third member of the group chose not to and sought services from another community.

The contract with Genesis was based on having three participants so they were forced to rescind the bid, putting Hillsdale and Rapids City on the clock to find a new deal with a heavier cost burden.

Open bidding for a new contract is currently underway and runs through Nov. 8.

Retired Hillsdale fire chief and current president of the board for Hillsdale fire protection district, Richard Mitton, is concerned about how this change will affect taxpayers.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of the residents in any of the areas that actually know that this is going on,” said Mitton, “they’re gonna have to pay more taxes.” He added, “The smaller rural departments right now, they’re all struggling trying to keep their services.”

Mitton says Genesis has given them a three-month extension to their previous contract, which will provide Hillsdale and Rapids City areas with ambulance coverage through the end of November.

Although there are currently no bids offered, Mitton is confident they will find a solution for residents even if it comes at a higher cost.