For a year now, the City of Mattoon has had to wrestle with the contentious idea made reality to shutter the fire department's ambulance service.
But 45 years ago, the City of Charleston found itself at a similar crossroads when it decided to take the plunge and have the fire department personnel take on the ambulance needs of the city, a charge they continue today and will likely continue into the future, Fire Chief Steve Bennett said.
For a number of years leading up to 1973 when the fire department took over, Charleston's ambulance needs were covered by a private service, the Coles County Ambulance Service under the direction of William Mathias.
Tom Watson, Charleston Fire Department historian, said Mathias came into the area with a goal to take over the ambulance business, which local funeral homes at the time handled in the city. He was successful, at least in Charleston. Mattoon's funeral homes continued on and served as a competition for the Charleston-focused service.