911

Illinois House Republicans

 

The Illinois General Assembly voted to increase a fee on cell phone bills in order to fund 911 services. It was a rare example of Republican lawmakers defying the Rauner administration.

 

Negotiators involved in the legislation say the governor tried to pull Republican support because Rauner did not want Mayor Rahm Emanuel to get a win.

 

But GOP lawmakers ended up voting for the measure, which includes a cell phone fee increase in Chicago.

 

 

Emergency dispatchers, phone companies, and lawmakers from both parties were in agreement. The fee on cell phone bills needed to increase — to keep 911 services  going and to add new technology mandated by Illinois.

 

 

 

Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, says he was not part of the talks, but he was ready to lend his support when talks broke down.

 

  Two emergency services are pit against each another in a fight for state funds. 

Illinois' Poison Control Center receives more than 82,000 calls a year. Some are from health care providers looking for expertise, but mostly they're from the general public.

"Some of them are very simple ones, like can I take Tylenol and Nyquil together? And the answer would be no," the center's director, Dr. Michael Wahl, says.

He says callers have often been waiting longer to get that advice. He says funding cuts, and the resulting staff shortages, have tripled wait times.

Dr. John Warner Hospital in Clinton stopped dispatching ambulances at the end of 2012.

“The hospital decided to get out of the ambulance business because we were losing just under $600,000 a year on the operation,” says Earl Sheehy, chief executive officer of the city-owned medical facility. “It was difficult. There were a lot of emotions involved and all that.” But he says the hospital could no longer bear the financial drain. “The community can have a better ambulance service, and the hospital can be stronger without having to sustain the ambulance service.”