Familiar faces continue care for Danville patients on the go

Jerry Buckley during training at Arrow Ambulance in DanvilleJerry Beckley insists some change is good. He ought to know. Nearly 20 years ago, Medix Ambulance owners Steve and Debbie Sparrow gave him the opportunity to make a big change—from being a welder to saving lives.

"They gave me a chance, and I fell in love," Beckley said.

While ownership of the Danville ambulance service changed to Carle last week, the mission and the people fulfilling that mission remain the same. Many existing Medix employees accepted positions with Arrow, helping ensure stability and quality of care.

"I wore the same type of uniform yesterday," Beckley said on his first day as a Carle Arrow Ambulance employee. "It's business as usual.  

"Our job is still taking care of people."

Arrow believes the best way to care for the community is to continue doing what the City of Danville and the Sparrows have done for the last 36 years—with the existing skilled ambulance crew that knows the city, its residents and its needs. Danville leaders may vote tonight on adding a second ambulance license. Presence Health System wants to provide ambulance services in Danville, as well, and suggested splitting the city at Vermilion Street, with the two services alternately covering each side.

Beckley, who grew up in Westville, now lives just eight minutes from the ambulance base near the corner of Gilbert and Fairchild. He knows minutes matter.

Community members helping one another matters, too.

"I run into people I know all the time," he said, adding, "Danville is big but not too big."

Beckley is already seeing the Danville community spirit from his new Carle coworkers.

"We have open communication. It's an open staff. They're just like us," he said.

For the last several weeks, Arrow Manager John Sollars has made Danville his home away from home.

He answers questions.

He gets to know people.

He makes Arrow’s mission clear.

Arrow Director Larry Sapp sums up that mission.

"I accept the responsibility of running a fair, efficient, high-quality ambulance service in this community, just has the Sparrows have done," Sapp said. "Expert paramedics and EMTs will continue to transport patients to the hospital of their choice just as Illinois Department of Public Health rules advise.

"Most importantly, Arrow will keep care local. We will continue to provide excellent care."

Tim Lawson has been providing excellent care with the Danville ambulance service for 28 years.

He's looking forward to incorporating Arrow procedures and resources, like training and technology.

"Our line of work is ever-changing," Lawson said. "You have to grow. You have to change. We get to use our brains. It's rewarding to help people."

Tammy Carnaghi is familiar with change, too. The now-Arrow EMT worked for Carle before, both in a clerical role and in the lab. She'll bring what she's learned in the last year and a half in Danville to Champaign-Urbana's Arrow team.

She credits Lawson's always-calm teaching methods with her success.

"Even in intense situations, he taught me to stay focused, to take care of the issue, to get the patients quickly and carefully where they need to be," she said.

During his time as a paramedic, Beckley has watched Danville's population change and age, requiring his team's brand of expertise, compassion and stability.

"Families that need us ask for certain paramedics, certain EMTs. For them, it's calming," Beckley said.