The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians declared the 2023 theme as “EMS: Where Emergency Care Begins”. For many communities in central Illinois, emergency care begins with the team at Carle Arrow Ambulance.
Founded in 1963, the team at Carle Arrow Ambulance, made of paramedics, emergency medical technicians and dispatchers, have worked to save lives during emergencies and prevent emergency situations through educational efforts.
Over the years, Carle Arrow Ambulance has grown to serve the communities of Champaign, Douglass, Vermilion and Richland counties. Arrow operates under the medical direction of Carle Foundation Hospital, the region's Level 1 Trauma Center. They now include 33 ambulances, two AirLife helicopters, and one critical care transport vehicle. The Arrow team is a critical piece of the care continuum Carle Health offers the community.
These state-of-the art transport vehicles allows for the Arrow team to be where community members need them, when they need them.
“We really are a small rolling ED. We bring that to patients, to start initial care, and the ultimate goal is to get them to definitive care as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible,” said Jimmy Zindars, a paramedic for 27 years with Arrow Ambulance. “We provide a high level of emergency services as pre-hospital providers. We are far more than just ‘ambulance drivers.’”
Joyce Willskey, a telecommunicator with Arrow and an EMS team member since 1987, knows how important gathering information is. “We ask questions, not to delay an ambulance, but to gather information to send the appropriate resources and advise our staff of what they are walking in to.”
Arrow also provides care before emergency services arrive to the scene. Dispatchers offer medical instruction to callers to help treat patients before paramedics arrive.
When asked what the most rewarding part of her job is, Willskey said, “Helping people. That’s the bottom line. Helping people by talking to them, instructing them, and having them know that you’re going to send additional help quickly and efficiently.”
Carle Arrow Ambulance team members also provide specialized care for pediatric patients. “Helping people is a common answer, but also seeing little kids’ excitement and awe at the ‘big, shiny truck with lights and sirens’,” said Brad Smith, who has been a paramedic for four years, when asked what is most rewarding about his career. “That’s pretty cool.”
Ensuring the safety of community members remains the team’s top priority. This priority extends to the students at the University of Illinois. Arrow Ambulance provides exclusive paramedic services for all NCAA sporting events and to the special tactical team of Champaign County and the City of Champaign.
In 2022, the Arrow team travelled over a million miles to provide emergency medical care to their communities. For them, helping those in need is the most rewarding part of their careers.
“We see people on some of the worst days of their lives, usually in life – threatening situations,” said Andria Baszis, a Lead Paramedic for Arrow. “Being one of the people trusted to help them get through it is incredibly rewarding and not something I take lightly.”
For more information or to join the Carle Arrow Ambulance team, visit Carle.org.
Categories: Culture of Quality