Machesney Park voters to decide if they want to own ambulances - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Machesney Park voters to decide if they want to own ambulances

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MACHESNEY PARK (WREX) -

When you dial 911 in Machesney Park you will get an ambulance but the fire department says sometimes it takes awhile to get there. The North Park Fire Protection district wants to change that.

It wants to buy it's own ambulances. Right now, it relies on private companies. They say it leaves people in Machesney Park vulnerable in a medical emergency.

"Seconds and minutes count," says Deputy Chief Brian Kunce.

That's why the North Park Fire District says it cannot rely on private companies anymore. When someone calls 911 North Park cannot control who gets an ambulance and when. They say the private ambulance company does.

"Right now we can only provide emergency medical technicians. We do not have advanced life support. So we might respond on a fire engine because we don't have our own ambulance," says Kunce.

So say you have a blocked airway and need a breathing tube, the best North Park can do is give you CPR until a private ambulance arrives.

"We can do vitals and just basic skills. We are only going to be able to pull off basic oxygen and AED," says Kunce.

The fire protection district is asking taxpayers if it's worth the money to change that. Switching away from private ambulances requires a voter approval. A referendum on April's ballot asks people living in the North Park Fire Protection District if they want a special tax to pay for ambulances. They say the tax rate would not to exceed .40%.

It all depends on your home's worth. The homeowner of an $88,000 house would pay an $100 a year. It would be enough to raise an estimated $700,000 to buy two ambulances and the paramedics to go with them.

This would become a permanent tax to keep the program funded. The election is April 7th

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