There are problems with Emergency Medical Services in Illinois, and it's going to cost money to fix it. That's the conclusion of a legislative task force that spent more than a year studying the issue. The going rate for a brand new ambulance ranges from $70,000 to $120,000 dollars. EMS systems are having a hard time finding and keeping qualified paramedics. Some hospitals, which play a key role in overseeing the emergency medical system, are thinking of getting out of the business. Those are just a few of the problems identified by the Illinois House of Representatives' Task Force on EMS Funding. Representative Lisa Dugan, a Democrat from Kankakee, is co-chair of the panel:
"We have some issues in southern Illinois, where actually we were told there was a chance that it was going to get to a point that it would take 45-50 minutes to get an ambulance to someone who needed medical care. That cannot be accepted."
The report offers a few ideas for improvements that shouldn't require a lot of money, but the plan also calls for taking $40 million in gambling taxes and dedicating it to EMS. With Illinois government as cash strapped as it is, EMS is in a long line of priorities trying to squeeze more money out of a shrinking state budget.
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