E116 upgraded to paramedic

Adam Larck
From left, Jon Bourell, Heath Gerkin, Dan Zilm and Rosie Alig stand in front of the recently upgraded paramedic ambulance service outside the fire station.

Emergency 116 in Metamora has received a few upgrades.

The service has switched from Basic Life Support to paramedic, which is Advance Life Support. In addition, the staff is getting some new rooms at the fire station.

The upgrades came after the tax was approved for E116 in March, the first time the service will be tax supported since starting 35 years ago.

 Even though the service won’t receive tax money until next July or August, the service was still upgraded now to give better care to the community.

“We’ve been looking at doing the switch for probably four years,” EMT Capt. Heath Gerkin said. “Our board, they’re very good with money. They’re very thrifty with their money, so they have been planning this out for a while.”

E116 board president Bob Murphy added that donations have also helped what they’ve saved in reserve.

“We’re watching what we’re spending,” he said. “There’s a lot of material and labor at reduced cost and a lot of donated labor too.”

The updated service gives the ambulance a cardiac monitor, advanced airway treatments and more.

The service also can administer pain medication to patients.

“It used to cost us quite a bit to call another agency or paramedic service and now we don’t have to,” EMT Training Officer Rosie Alig said.

Before, E116 had to call East Peoria to meet them to administer pain medication. Now, the staff can do that before leaving the city.

“We get calls from Snyder Village or local houses with people that fall and we can start it right away, whereas with East Peoria you had them bouncing down the road for 10 minutes and they’re in a lot of pain,” Gerkin said.

So far, Gerkin said that they have administered pain medication to three to four people already. Overall, Alig said about 50 percent of the calls have been ALS since switching over.

“I was on one Monday and by the time we got out of town she was on pain medication already,” Alig said. “By the time we got to the hospital, the pain was a lot better. I’m not a medic, I’m a basic, but I’ve seen the advantages of all of it.”

Meanwhile, the fire station is in the process of adding some more rooms for staff members while waiting for calls.

“We have two bedrooms, there’ll be an office and there’ll be a day room back there,” Gerkin said. “That’s where all the day people will hang out.”

Currently, the staff uses the meeting room in the fire department.

When the rooms are finished this week, it will also allow the group to be a lot more organized and have a place to go when meetings are held.

Once these upgrades are finished, the new money that will come in next year will help to pay for normal operations.