EMS Week follows high-profile rescue in Ill. town
EMS Week has become a time for EMS providers to hold outreach programs for the communities they serve
The Northwest Herald
MCHENRY, Ill. — Last week, off-duty firefighter Joel Arnier made headlines when he saved a 1-year-old girl who fell into the Fox River and nearly drowned.
About noon May 10, Arnier and a friend were fishing near Colby Drive in McHenry when they saw a woman run into the water and pick up something – a child who had been floating facedown.
Arnier, a paramedic with Addison Fire Protection District, said his instincts took over immediately.
"I know what to do," he said. "I've seen this situation before, and I'm not afraid to attempt a resuscitation. That's my job."
Using chest compressions, Arnier revived the child. He said he was just doing what he's trained to do.
This year, National Emergency Medical Services Week comes on the heels of the high-profile rescue.
Established about 40 years ago by President Gerald R. Ford, EMS Week has become a time to not only thank emergency medicine heroes such as Arnier, but also for EMS providers to hold outreach programs for the communities they serve.
Through Sunday, several area departments will host open houses and outreach programs to highlight the services they provide to area communities all year.
From noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, the Crystal Lake Fire Department will provide CPR demonstrations and host a Teddy Bear Clinic to check stuffed animals for "boo-boos." The department also will display its ambulance and rescue equipment and a Flight for Like helicopter.
Last weekend, the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District hosted a similar open house.
"It is our third year doing an open house," said Lt. Joyce Stevenson of the Crystal Lake Department. "We just try to draw attention to all of the things we do."
When they are not responding to fires and 911 calls, the firefighters at the Crystal Lake Department, like their counterparts all over McHenry County, are training.
To respond quickly to emergency situations ranging from a minor fall to a serious stroke, heart attack or third-degree burn, EMS personnel spend hundreds of hours studying, practicing and testing each year.
Knowing what to do at the scene of an emergency means saving lives.
"If somebody stops breathing, we have four to six minutes until brain damage," said Chris Olsen, bureau chief of training for the Crystal Lake Fire Department. That immediacy is why departments train almost every day.
"The more you do something, the more it becomes natural," Olsen said. "For example, knowing what scenarios call for which drugs, you train on that so you can do it out in the field."
The Crystal Lake Fire Department provides fire and paramedic services, and about 80 percent of the calls it responds to each year are EMS-related, Olsen said.
"Every day the crews train," Olsen continued. "Some medical training as well as fire training. The hospital, as well, does training to keep us current with our skills and any new information that comes out, and then they test us quarterly to see if we are able to maintain our skills."
The Lake Zurich Fire Department was honored this month for excellence as a result of some of its training. Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington awarded the department for outstanding care given to a cardiovascular patient in a pre-hospital setting for its use of real-time electro-cardiogram equipment.
McHenry County fire departments including Crystal Lake this spring are being trained on the same equipment.
"Quality emergency care dramatically improves the survival and recovery rate of those who experience sudden illness or injury," Cindy Amore, Centegra Health System's EMS manager and coordinator, said in a news release. Like Good Shepherd, Centegra is honoring its partner EMS professionals this week.
The hard work and training that emergency physicians, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, 911 dispatchers, firefighters, and others put in each year provides a vital public service, Amore said, "and help make our EMS system run smoothly all year long."
Reprinted with permission from the Northwest Herald.
- EMS Heroes