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News: McHenry Western Lake County EMS System celebrates 35 years

McHENRY – As the McHenry Western Lake County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) System celebrates its 35th anniversary, Centegra Health System recognizes emergency care providers throughout the area.

The EMS system was created in 1975 when Centegra Health System partnered with the Illinois Department of Public Health to enhance the emergency care that was provided to the people of Northern Illinois. As the resource hospital for the EMS system, Centegra Hospital – McHenry provides medical direction for pre-hospital patient care, initial and ongoing training, quality assurance and policy development in its oversight of more than 800 EMS providers. Those providers include basic and paramedic EMTs, pre-hospital nurses, emergency communications nurses and emergency medical dispatchers.

“Each year our EMS providers respond to more than 35,000 patient requests for emergency services, and that number increases every year,”  said Cindy Amore, EMS manager and system coordinator with Centegra Health System. “We were one of the first coordinated EMS systems in the state, and we are proud to celebrate the high-quality services that we provide to the people of the region.” 

Amore said emergency medical care has changed dramatically since this system started in 1975.

“Thirty-five years ago there weren’t even dispatchers. The emergency calls usually came to the fire chief’s home,”  she added.

Through the years, improvements in technology and training have made the McHenry Western Lake County EMS System one of the strongest in the state. Paramedics used to have about 250 hours of training and today they receive 1,200 hours of training through Centegra’s teaching partnership at McHenry County College.

“Technology has played a huge role in the way pre-hospital care has improved,”  Amore said. “Many pieces of equipment that are used in the Intensive Care Unit have now been adapted to be used in an ambulance. We are able to provide emergency care and at the same time communicate with area hospitals to help the staffs prepare for each patient’s arrival.” 

Members of the McHenry Western Lake County EMS System include:

  • Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital
  • ATEC Ambulance
  • Cary Fire Protection District
  • Centegra Hospital-Woodstock
  • Crystal Lake Fire/Rescue Department
  • Elgin Medi Transport
  • Flight For Life
  • Fox Lake Fire Department
  • Fox River Grove Fire Protection District
  • Lakewood Fire Department
  • McHenry Township Fire Protection District
  • Nunda Rural Fire Protection District
  • Rescue Eight Ambulance
  • Richmond Township Fire Protection District
  • Spring Grove Fire Protection District
  • Wonder Lake Fire Protection District
  • Woodstock Fire/Rescue District
  • 911 Dispatch from McHenry County 911 Agencies and Fox Com 911 Dispatch

In addition, members of the EMS system work with other regional first responders to coordinate excellent care for people in need. They include fire and rescue squads from Antioch, Wauconda, Round Lake, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Huntley and Marengo.

“This is a great time to thank our region’s first responders for their dedication to patient care,”  Amore said. “After 35 years, we continue to improve the way we provide services to people in need. We invest in continuing education, new technologies and reassess our processes to be sure we’re as efficient as possible. We are proud to care for our friends and neighbors in greater McHenry County and in Lake County.” 