Fire Chief Greg Klaiber and Division Chiefs Tom Janetske (center) and Dwight Hohl accept the Inspire award from Presence Saint Francis Hospital on behalf of the department’s paramedics.           Photo by Jill Brazel

Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!

Presence St. Frances Hospital (PSFH) honored the first responders of emergency medical teams from seven communities, “whose life-saving techniques and compassionate service have touched thousands,” with the 2014 Inspire award.

Among them are firefighter/paramedic teams from Evanston, Lincolnwood, Northfield, Skokie, Wheeling, Wilmette and Winnetka, together with representatives of Superior Ambulance Service and Advance Ambulance/Elite Ambulance.
Recipients of the Inspire award for community service “exemplify the values that inspire PSFH’s outreach to the community … and recognize inspirational leadership … that has gone above and beyond the call of duty to advance the well-being of the community,” said Glen Aldinger, M.D.

Illinois paramedic-training programs began at Saint Francis Hospital 40 years ago, said Chris Costas, M.D., president of the PSFH medical staff. The hospital was one of the first Illinois hospitals to be named a resource hospital in the Illinois emergency medical services (EMS), he said.

“As such, PSFH is responsible for training paramedics and providing medical oversight for personnel from seven communities and two private ambulance companies,” he added.

Mary Ann Miller, one of the nurses in the first training program, helped write the curriculum. She gave a brief history of the program. The original curriculum involved 260 hours of training and a book with fewer than 100 pages.

Evanston Fire Division Chiefs Tom Janetske and Dwight Hohl said both have increased in almost geometric proportions over the years.

“The program has improved over the years,” said Divison Chief Hohl. “The textbook was 100 pages and now is 1,800 pages.”

Division Chief Janetske said, “Some of the biggest advances in paramedic training have been in technology … especially in advaced cardiac care.”

Division Chief Hohl said paramedics now have greater autonomy in the decision-making process on the way to the hospital.

“When I first got here, we had to call the medical central for direction. Now there is more independence with the new standard operating procedures.”
Adam Greenberg, EMS System Coordinator at PSFH, said, “The goal is to give [the paramedics] the autonomy to treat the patient [on the way to the hospital].”

Not only does PSFH offer the initial training to paramedics, it offers ongoing professional training to all paramedics at the individual fire houses, Mr. Greenberg said.

Fire Chief Greg Klaiber said, “We have seen a steady increase in our total and EMS call volume over the last 25 years.  

“In 1989 we ran 4,061 EMS responses, and that has increased to our highest total of 5,824 in 2012.” Last year was “the busiest year in our Department’s history, as we responded to 9,373 calls for service.” Of those, he said, 5,735 calls were for EMS – the second-highest number of EMS calls in the department’s history.

“Because so much of what we do for our community involves EMS, it makes last week’s recognition all the more significant,” said Chief Klaiber.  The Saint Francis EMS System has educated most of our Department’s paramedics over the last 40 years.  The training and course work have become increasingly more complex to address all the types of advanced life support we may be called upon to provide to our community.  

“Saint Francis System’s EMS educators have done an excellent job over the years to ensure our paramedics are prepared to serve our community.  I greatly appreciate what they have done for our department over the last 40 years.  We have an excellent working relationship, and I look forward to working with them into the future.”