EMS Q&A

Horizon Health EMS was awarded the Special Service Area No. 1 Ambulance District contract by the Edgar County Board at its April 22 meeting. This contract will begin June 1, 2019.

We are excited for the opportunity and look forward to providing this service to our communities. We are proud of our EMS team and all they have accomplished in their first year.

The following Q&A addresses questions submitted by community members through Horizon Health's Facebook page or other means. Additional questions/answers will be added as they become available.

In addition to this Q&A, Horizon Health will address questions at a community forum on Tuesday, May 14, at 5:30 pm, in Conference Room A, near the new hospital gift shop.


1. How many ambulances will be available (as of 6/1) to the county as a whole?
As of June 1, Horizon Health will have three ambulances available, with a fourth being pursued. However, additional ambulances exist throughout the county, such as Northern Edgar County and Kansas.

2. Are the employees of ECSSA going to be added to Horizon’s paramedics?
We have open positions for EMS staff. Any of those employees are welcome to apply.

3. The past year we have had seven ambulances between the two. Will you be planning to add more than the three ambulances? Do you think that the three will be enough for the entire Edgar County?
Our third ambulance will arrive prior to the June 1 contract deadline, as will an emergency response vehicle. Also, we are currently pursuing a fourth ambulance. We will be very transparent at all county board meetings to adjust any staffing of ambulances as the county’s needs arise.

Horizon Health has researched the volume of 9-1-1 calls in our service area. Working collaboratively with the area 9-1-1 center and surrounding agencies, it has been determined that in 2018 there were approximately 2,000 emergent calls (9-1-1 and transfers). That averages 5.5 calls per day. While we recognize that those can come all at once, we very rarely ever see the need for more than three ambulances at any one time.

We recognize that this is a challenging issue, and will always be for most small communities. While having an abundance of emergency responders is always beneficial in times of crisis, there has to be a balance to make staffing economically sound. Just as there is not a perfect number of firetrucks or law enforcement officers, this is an economic reality of government funding and decision making.

4. Could the ECSSA and Horizon merge in some way so that we don’t lose the extra services to our rural area?
Horizon Health and ECSSA are two separate business entities. Any decision regarding shared coverage would be made by the Edgar County Board.

5. Do emergency patients now have to be sent to Horizon Health before they can be sent to “out of district” hospitals as the ambulance is a service of Horizon Health?
No. We are overseen by regional protocols that dictate certain life-threatening emergencies are directed to certain levels of care—as governed by the Illinois Department of Public Health. All EMS services must follow these rules. If a patient condition is not deemed critical, he/she can make the choice as to where he/she would like to go.

6. Can someone in southern Edgar Township request Horizon Health instead of Northern ambulance?
If a resident of the Northern Edgar County ambulance service area calls 9-1-1, he/she will most likely get the Northern Edgar County ambulance service dispatched to him/her. If a patient resides in Edgar Township—or anywhere outside the Special Service Area No. 1 Ambulance District —and would like Horizon Health to respond, it is best to call us directly at 466-4911. Note that for severe, life-threatening emergencies you should always call 9-1-1.

7. How is the decrease of ambulances going to affect the ability of rural communities outside of Paris to have emergency care?
See response to Question 3.

8. How can the hospital’s brand new service offer the same level of care as a service that’s been in operation for a number of years?
Though our ambulance service is only a year old, our staff bring more than 250 years of combined experience. And, many have obtained additional credentials, such as flight paramedics/flight nurses, firefighter/paramedics, and pre-hospital RNs, to name a few.

9. Will Horizon Health only be transferring to Union and Regional only?
No. We are overseen by regional protocols that dictate certain life-threatening emergencies are directed to certain levels of care—as governed by the Illinois Department of Public Health. All EMS services must follow these rules. If a patient condition is not deemed critical, he/she can make the choice as to where he/she would like to go.

10. Did Horizon Health have to pay a fine for the EMTALA violation?
The EMTALA fine in 2011 was imposed and Horizon Health ER was in the wrong. It was found that the ER physician did not complete the care necessary before transferring a patient. He was subsequently terminated by both Horizon Health and the third party service that staffs the ER.
The EMTALA allegation in 2017 was deemed unfounded. No fines or penalties were imposed.

11. The Brocton Fire Department is not included in the Special Service Area No. 1 Ambulance District or the Northern Edgar County District. They had been paying ECSSA a yearly fee for ambulance services. Will you cover that area at no cost as well?
Representatives from Brocton have reached out to Horizon Health to discuss coverage specifics. Final details have not yet been determined. Further data analysis will need to be completed and discussed.

12. With Horizon Health bidding zero to provide ambulance coverage, will the rates for individual services go up?
No. When we started this service a year ago, we benchmarked rates regionally. Therefore, we know that our pricing is extremely competitive, and we see no reason to change our rates at this time. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) highly regulate emergency transport fees. Horizon Health has always complied with regulations.

©2019 Horizon Health | All rights reserved
Website design by: Legato Healthcare Marketing