Friday, October 19, 2012
Ambulances High Concern For Rural Development Group
After polling Illinois residents and conducting a listening tour of the state, a council headed by Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon has adopted a plan for rural development in Illinois.
The Rural Affairs Council — made up of state administrators, academics, business leaders, representatives of the agriculture industry and citizen members — conducted a poll of more than 1,000 residents to find out how rural Illinoisans gauged their quality of life and what issues and services are priorities for them. The group also toured the state, stopping in six cities to hear feedback. The resulting plan, called Vision for Rural Illinois, focuses on the concerns and needs of rural communities.
One of the biggest issues the group hopes to address is access to emergency care for rural residents. “ In a small geographic area with a high population, the ambulance rides are short — back and forth — and they can do many in a day," said Simon. "In rural areas, the rides can be quite long and take a lot of staff just to be available to do that transportation part,” Simon said. She said that ambulance services in more remote areas of the state require flexibility and may have different needs in terms of training and communication technology. “So we’re looking at training standards. We’re looking at staffing standards and how we can make sure that people in every part of Illinois, including remote and rural parts of Illinois, are served by ambulance services.” The council plans to work with an Illinois House committee that is also looking into the issue and hopes to propose legislation in the coming Spring session.
Another one of the council’s goals is to inform rural residents and businesses of services that already exist. Simon said that while on the listening tour, the council often heard about needs that current programs might be able to address. “We’re talking about services that help small businesses grow or services that help small businesses start,” she said. “Frequently the comment comes up from people who are in business who look back and say, ‘Oh, now that I know about some of these programs, I wish I would have known about that before, when I was just starting.’ So it tells me that we have more people that we can be reaching in terms of letting them know what’s available in the state of Illinois, particularly to develop the economy.”
You can read Jamey's full report at: http://illinoisissuesblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/council-set-to-tackle-rural-issues.html