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Hobart residents plea for city to maintain ambulance service

Updated: February 19, 2013 2:08PM



HOBART — The City Council on Wednesday heard impassioned pleas from several residents, including the mother and sister of fallen firefighter Ted Hansen, to keep emergency medical services within the fire department and maintain the current number of firefighters.

Councilmen had confirmed last week that a team of city officials was investigating the feasibility of contracting with a private ambulance company for the city’s emergency medical calls, but stressed no decision has been made.

Ted Castle, president of Hobart Firefighters Union Local 1641, said last week that he was told privatization could result in a reduction of 14 firefighters, from 50 to 36,

“My brother, Ted Hansen III, lost his life due to a lack of manpower. There is still a lack of manpower in the department. ... Do you want this on your conscience if this happens again? I hope not another fire department family has to walk in our shoes,” Theresa Sielski, of Hobart, told the council.

Ted Hansen died while fighting a fire in 1995.

“Please don’t put this through. These boys are my family,” her mother, Marge Hansen, said of the firefighters, whose lives she feared would be put in jeopardy if the number of firefighters is reduced.

Resident William Krebes pointed to a recent Post-Tribune article that showed Hobart came in third in the Chicago area in increasing property value. He said good EMS, fire and police departments are among the reasons for this positive news, along with good schools, hospital and water.

“Our EMS is one of the reasons. To reduce those services in any way, I am totally against,” Krebes said.

He told how his wife collapsed while working at Joann Martin Elementary School one day.

“The guys didn’t have an ambulance. They ran to Joann Martin School to attend to my wife. I don’t think a for-profit business would be that responsive,” Krebes said.

Mayor Brian Snedecor said the city is exploring its options, just as every community in Lake County must, as it looks for ways to keep costs down. He took jabs at an anonymous person who leaked news of the city’s investigation into privatization of its emergency medical services.

“Whoever took this to the media was very premature. They had to rush to panic the public,” Snedecor said.

He said as elected officials, however, the council must constantly review its costs and make budgetary decisions.

“We ‘re simply doing our due diligence,” said Councilman Matthew Claussen, D, at-large, who is one of the city officials looking into privatization.

Councilwoman Monica Wiley, D, at-large, said she learned about the EMS issue through the newspaper, even though she is a member of the fire committee and used EMS services twice.



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