By Steve Robinson | May 7, 2020 - 3:15 pm
Posted in Category: Hudson Quill, News

NORMAL – Could Normal Fire Department emergency medical technicians be coming to the aid of someone in Hudson needing to get to a Twin City hospital? That could happen under discussions between Normal Fire Department and Hudson Fire Protection District (HFPD). NFD Chief Mick Humer told Normal Town Council members during a work session prior to the May 4 Council session NFD officials had discussions with Hudson Fire officials last summer which began mentioning the possibility of NFD entering into a contract with Hudson Fire Protection District to respond to emergency calls within the district.

If an agreement between the parties is worked out, this would be the second smaller community NFD EMT units would respond to, as Towanda began receiving such service in 2014. HFPD responds to calls covering roughly 50 square miles, including the Village of Hudson, Humer told Council members. Their territory includes Lake Bloomington, Lake Evergreen, and surrounding areas, Humer explained.

In 2019, Humer said, there were between 140-150 calls for assistance made to HFPD, of which NFD lent assistance 47 times assisting with “paramedic-level transport.” He said if the patient required IV’s or medication, NFD was able to assist, in addition to getting the patient to a hospital.

“We’re only talking about 100 more calls per year,” if this is agreed to, Humer told Council members. He added Hudson receives money courtesy of a tax levy for emergency medical services of roughly $300,000. He said Hudson would need to use some of those dollars for training new EMTs, equipment, and manpower. He said depending on which part of Hudson or the county a call comes from, it could take anywhere between 12 to 18 minutes to respond. NFD Station #3, located on Raab Rd. on Normal’s north end, would get to Hudson in 12 minutes, He added.

NFD and HFPD “are still in the process of negotiating the contract, and we’re very close,” Humer told Council members, with cost being the current sticking point between the two sides. He added patients would be billed for transportation to the hospital, adding HFPD billed patients for trips to hospitals for close to $65,000 total. Of that total, roughly $42,000 was recovered through private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid.

For NFD, the additional service would not involve an increase in manpower, Humer said. He added ambulance calls for Normal residents will feel no difference in response times with other NFD stations in town able to respond should there be a call to Towanda.

Normal City Manager Pam Reece told Council members the Town would propose to HFPD an initial three-year agreement. She added NFD receives over 5,000 calls for EMT service annually. “If Hudson has 140 to 150 calls a year, the number of new calls for us to respond to would be about 100. That sounds like a lot of calls, but when you’re doing over 5,000, it’s basically not a significant impact to our calls for service.”

Humer added that when a contract is finalized, a clause which would see the fee Hudson pays for the service would go up three percent annually during the life of the contract. Reece said the Town “is proposing a relatively short term agreement which gives us chance to see how this works.”

Reece added the Town would make sure Hudson maintained its first responder program. Once an agreement between NFD and HFPD is worked out, it will be sent to Normal Town Council members for a vote.

In discussion which followed, Council Member Kevin McCarthy verified with Humer whether he was not anticipating any staff changes as a result of what was proposed to which Humer and Reece confirmed. Council Member Stan Nord added he would like a mechanism be put in place by NFD in case a retirement community were to be place in the Hudson area, so that additional calls from there could be handled.