TONICA — The Tonica Volunteer Fire Department and ambulance service receives no local tax funding, but does receive a great deal of community support.

This month, the ambulance service took possession of a new ambulance, purchased completely from savings built through direct donations from villagers and residents within the ambulance district that stretches from Cedar Point along Route 71 on the west and north to Leonore on the south and east.

Fire chief Al Stremlau said residents also support fundraisers such as chili night and pork chop dinners. The ambulance replaces a 1999 model.

The department had applied for grants for the ambulance for three years, each time denied. The old ambulance was having maintenance issues and undercarriage deterioration and became a major cause of concern.

“We had to move forward,” says Stremlau.

The department did successfully apply for a grant for a new defibrillator, a Life Pack 15. “It’s the newest model,” Stremlau said. It performs the functions of previous defibrillators, but also has a 12-lead electrocardiogram that can be transmitted to the hospital so emergency room staff can see how to prepare for the patient’s arrival.

In addition, it has a heart-pacing feature, the chief said.

Tonica’s ambulance service, at times, is at the Advanced Life Support level, when one of the two paramedics is available. At other times, the ambulance crew can deliver a patient for a transfer to a neighboring community’s ALS ambulance.

Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or Follow him on Twitter @NT_NewsEditor.

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