By Alexander Germanis
Few negative feelings in life rival that sour, acidic emotion of helplessness in the face of an emergency. Fear, panic, and despair can rapidly set in and when one’s health or the life of a loved one could be on the line, those feelings can quickly get out of control.
But knowing there is someone to help in the face of an unforeseen adversity can quickly turn the gut-churning gnaw of despair to the uplifting promise of hope.
Rising to fulfill that hope in times when you need medical aid is Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois.
Serving Many Needs
In 1992, the three local Peoria hospitals joined together to create a high-performance emergency advanced life support paramedic service for the area—what would later come to be known nationwide as a model of emergency medical service. This was Advanced Medical Transport (AMT), the premier provider of both emergency and non-emergency ambulance operations in Central Illinois and the largest in downstate Illinois.
“We are a private, not for profit organization governed by a local, community-based board of directors,” explains Andrew Rand, AMT Chief Executive Officer. “AMT’s Medical Director provides oversight for all EMS service programs and AMT operates under the authority of the Peoria Area EMS System Medical Director. No one ‘owns’ AMT, rather it exists for the benefit of the residents.”
Although those residents are spread across 75 communities, AMT still responds to nearly 64,000 service requests annually in eight markets, providing 911 and hospital interfacility and critical care transport services.
Not Just for Emergencies
Not every medical need is considered an emergency, however. For those times, AMT is still there to serve.
Since their inception, their myriad services have expanded to the following: secure car transportation for involuntary behavioral health hospital admissions, specialty NICU transportation services, nurse transportation services, MedValet wheelchair transportation services, Mobile Integrated Health Care, and special event medical standby services.
“After hospital discharge, certain patients will receive visits in their home from one of our caregivers through our Mobile Integrated Health Care Program to ensure the best patient outcome possible,” Andrew adds. “We also provide ambulance standby services for sporting events, high school sporting events, concerts, and other community events.”
AMT also houses the 211 Community Referral Service and the Peoria 311 Hotline. “The 211 service is a partnership with the United Way,” outlines Andrew, “providing individuals with the resources necessary to obtain housing and rental assistance, access to food banks, and information for electric and utility assistance, and other basic needs.”
The City of Peoria 311 Hotline is a platform available for citizens to report issues requiring the attention of city officials on both the citywide and neighborhood levels.
In times of additional need, AMT adds to their services as well. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they created a public information and referral network to address pandemic concerns while they worked closely with public health agencies to provide services needed during that period.
No member of the community is considered outside of their scope. “AMT has provided in-house child car seat inspections and installation to ensure the safety of the children in our communities,” continues Andrew. “In 2002, AMT began a community benefit program that placed automated external defibrillators (AED) in public buildings at no cost to the communities we serve. This program placed more than 850 AEDs for public use.”
Be a Hero in the Community
Currently staffed by 307 full-time and 144 part-time employees across all markets—most of whom work providing prehospital emergency care—AMT is still always looking to expand the number of people in the community who can respond in times of emergency.
AMT offers intensive emergency medical technician (EMT) basic training in a course called Earn to Learn. “The Earn to Learn course provides qualified students the opportunity to be paid to attend class and become certified as an EMT Basic,” says Andrew.
The opportunities to forge new heroes does not stop there. “In 2013, AMT established the first regional Training/Research Institute—The EMS Academy—aligned with Creighton University,” he continues. “The EMS Academy operates with a mission to provide high quality paramedic education, which will empower individuals to become compassionate, respectful, skilled, and knowledgeable healthcare providers who value education as a lifelong process.”
Naturally not everyone strives to be a healthcare provider, but the opportunity may arise for those individuals to save a life and AMT is there to help them as well. Since AMT’s formation, they have trained more than 55,000 individuals in CPR skills, most recently with hands-only CPR, which has been found to produce improved oxygen circulation to the heart and brain.
In Times of Need…
A common lament during trying times is that help never seems to be around when you need it most. AMT is dedicated to making sure that doesn’t happen with them. “As one of the first to employ automatic vehicle locators and GPS tracking, we laid the foundation for a system to keep our resources strategically deployed,” Andrew states. “Analyzing historical demand data helps us to be in the right place at the right time.”
Even should an emergency the size of an F5 tornado hit, AMT will still be functioning and prepared to help others. AMT’s dispatch/communications center was designed and built to withstand a direct hit from such a storm. “Redundancies for every system assure our ability to react swiftly to a disaster,” assures Andrew.
This unblinking dedication to providing the community with effective ambulance transportation solutions has been recognized by numerous organizations over the years. In 2002, AMT received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services, the gold standard in the ambulance industry. And with every re-accreditation, AMT continues to receive perfect scores.
AMT also won the American Ambulance Association AMBY Awards for Best Clinical Outcome Project in 2016 and 2019 for their ‘Race to the Top’ program. “Race to the Top,” explains Andrew, “is AMT’s clinical quality cardiac arrest resuscitation program designed to improve return of spontaneous circulation for cardiac arrest patients.”
…Help Will Emerge
Although everyone needs help from time to time, each community’s needs are different, as are the logistics of getting help to those communities. Andrew says that’s precisely why AMT was formed in the first place: to provide for the needs of our community. “Since then,” he states, “AMT has continued to develop successful ambulance service models to address the challenges specific to community populations in need of a dependable quality ambulance service.”
Providing that service when it is needed is, of course, not easy due to the very nature of an emergency. The meaning of an emergency is found in the word itself: the result of an unforeseen circumstance that arises or emerges, as if from nowhere.
Fortunately, when such situations occur, the tireless men and women of Advanced Medical Transport will also rise up, as if from nowhere, and come to your aid.
Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois is based at 1718 North Sterling Avenue in Peoria, Illinois. If you are need of our services, please contact us by calling toll free at (800) 457-1143. To learn more about what medical help we provide, please visit us online at www.amtci.org.