Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon says rural emergency services are a hot topic in listening post sessions she's conducting. The southern Illinois Democrat stopped in Gibson City to find ideas to improve rural quality of life. She says EMS providers have problems with turnover and certification requirements for staff.
Simon says returning soldiers who've served as medics should also be able to benefit from their training overseas, though they are not now allowed to count that experience toward certification as paramedics. In Gibson City, Simon says she heard about improvements in rural ambulance service by affiliating with a medical center. She acknowledges there is no one-size fits all fix to the problem of ambulance access.
She says one or two community colleges in the state are addressing the issue of finding enough people to staff rural EMS services.
Simon says she's hearing a lot of the predictable infrastructure needs such as sewage treatment and bridges during her listening stops. A perhaps surprising theme commonly cropping up, she says, is a lack of high speed internet service. And she says the state can help.
Simon also says Illinois has a decent record of attracting federal grant dollars for rural internet growth.
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