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Andalusia volunteer ambulance service searching for help

Everywhere you look around Andalusia, businesses are looking for help. A group of first responders in town is no exception.

ANDALUSIA, Ill. — For more than four decades, since 1975, the ambulance service in Andalusia has been operated by volunteers. 

Everywhere you look around Andalusia, businesses are looking for help.

The people we call for help are now looking for their own.

"Recently, it was probably put out a couple of months ago, and … I’ve gotten one phone call," Lucinda Parchert said of the banner asking for volunteers displayed outside the ambulance office. "That was it."

Parchert has been with the Andalusia Volunteer Ambulance Service for 18 years, and she said the number of volunteers has decreased over that timeframe.

"We’re dealing with six people to cover everything," Parchert said of the current staffing levels.

"Everything" is 282 square miles in Illinois, which includes the Andalusia, Buffalo Prairie and Reynolds Fire Protection District areas.

"It is the largest volunteer ambulance service in the state of Illinois," Parchert said.

Parchert and other volunteers said they have needed more help over the last 8 years. The need has grown more dire over the last year.

Parchert said the service had a "good roster" size about 10 years ago, at about 30 regular volunteers. 

The need is even greater for the service starting on Friday.

"Friday morning, we have to have somebody here to cover," Parchert said. "And we have reached out to a company, and we hope he can provide us with an EMT for 14-16 hours until a couple of us can come back on for just this weekend."

Parchert said she is not optimistic the service will receive more volunteers to keep going. 

The number of new volunteers willing to go through a continuing education course, which Parchert said the ambulance service will pay for, is not enough to offset the number of volunteers leaving the service.

That means, if the volunteer service is replaced with a paid service, residents in the area may be stuck footing the bill, with higher taxes to cover the costs, Parchert said.

"Right now, people can’t get people to work for money, let alone volunteer," Parchert said. "And it’s not just an ambulance service that needs it. Everybody needs help."

They are neighbors responding to everyday calls.

"We don’t know what’s going to happen for sure," Parchert said.

But amid all that uncertainty, the current volunteers are still helping while they can.

The board of Fire Trustees will meet 7 p.m. Wednesday night to discuss the fate of the volunteer program - whether it should continue to be volunteer-based, a paid service outside the community or a combination of the two.

Andalusia Volunteer Ambulance is looking for volunteers to help support the number of calls we received every year....

Posted by Andalusia Volunteer Ambulance on Sunday, September 12, 2021

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