Posts Tagged Evanston Police Chief William McHugh

Evanston Fire Department history Part 72

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department


The concept of the “paramedic” in a non-military, civilian environment, was introduced on a limited basis in several American cities in the late 1960’s, mainly to improve life-saving care to cardiac patients. In 1972, the NBC-TV series Emergency! provided the American public with a weekly glimpse into the world of Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics, helping to spread the idea across the nation. What was unique about the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s paramedic program was that firefighters were cross-trained as paramedics. 

In the Chicago area, fire departments with a tradition of providing ambulance service were the first to train paramedics and place Advanced Life Support (ALS) Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) ambulances into service. The Niles Fire Department – which had provided ambulance service to its residents since 1946 – established a paramedic-program in 1973. The Skokie Fire Department placed two MICU ambulances staffed with paramedic firefighters into service in 1975, replacing its two 1969 Cadillac Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances.

The Chicago Fire Department, which had provided ambulance service since 1928 and had 33 Cadillac and Pontiac BLS ambulances in service in 1974, placed their first two paramedic-staffed MICU ambulances into service in July 1974, with Ambulance 41 replacing Ambulance 1 at E1/T1 and Ambulance 42 replacing Ambulance 21 at E13. Five additional CFD MICU ambulances were in service by the end of 1974, with Ambulance 43 replacing Ambulance 11 at E22, Ambulance 44 replacing Ambulance 24 at E57, Ambulance 45 replacing Ambulance 2 at E103, Ambulance 47 replacing Ambulance 7 at E108/T23, and Ambulance 16 at O’Hare Field.

The City of Evanston borrowed an MICU “demonstrator” – minus the drugs and the specialized ALS gear only paramedics would be certified to use – from the State of Illinois Department of Public Health in June 1974, and it was tested over a 60-day period by the EFD. It was a modular ambulance, meaning it was a cab & chassis with a “box” mounted on top of the chassis. Personnel from Squad 21 were assigned to the unit (known as Ambulance 1) and responded to inhalator calls and ambulances runs city-wide throughout the summer. An engine company was dispatched as a “first responder” for inhalator calls outside Station # 1’s first-due area.

Three Evanston Police Department station-wagon patrol-ambulances were still in service in 1974 and (if available) could respond to inhalator calls and ambulance runs if the EFD’s MICU demonstrator was unavailable. The police patrol-ambulances were backed-up by the three stretcher-equipped EFD station-wagons. However, the three EFD stretcher-equipped station wagons (F-3 at Station # 5, F-4 at Station # 2, and F-5 at Station # 1) were used by Fire Prevention Bureau inspectors and the training officer during business hours, and normally could be staffed by personnel from an engine company (presuming the engine company was available and in quarters) only at night, on weekends, and holidays.   

Although the fire department was testing the MICU ambulance, Evanston Mayor Jim Staples wanted police officers – NOT firefighters – to be trained as paramedics, with the Evanston Police Department – NOT the Evanston Fire Department – operating the MICUs! He wanted the ambulances to be out on the street 24/7, just like the police patrol-ambulances. 

Evanston Police Chief William McHugh was apoplectic, saying there was no way his police department wanted any part of the new emergency medical service (EMS). Crime was on the rise in Evanston, gang activity was starting to become a problem, and the police department was hard-pressed just to provide rudimentary “throw-and-go”style ambulance service, without having to commit personnel and resources to a sophisticated new program.
Mayor Staples’ idea was politely considered, and then with approval of the Evanston City Council, City Manager Ed Martin assigned the the new EMS paramedic program to the fire department. Seven firefighters — Roger Bush, Dave Cleland, Jim Dillon, Randy Drott, Jerry McDermott, Jim McLaughlin, and Dave Pettinger — were trained and certified as paramedics at St. Francis Hospital during 1975. Although the fire department had not been the primary provider of ambulance service in Evanston over the years, firefighters knew all about saving lives. The EFD had been responding to inhalator calls since 1913!

In addition to establishing the new EMS program, the face of the Evanston Fire Department was changing in other ways as well. On November 26, 1973, the Evanston City Council agreed to appropriate funds to purchase a new 1,000-GPM pumper with a 300-gallon water tank. Only two bids were received; one from Howe ($43,242), and one from Pirsch ($47,721). Howe was awarded the contract, with an expected delivery date of one year. The pumper would feature an International-Harvester cab. 

On January 21, 1974, the city council authorized funds to purchase a second pumper with the exact same specifications, and Howe once again was awarded the contract by offering to supply the second pumper for $44,575 (slightly higher than its bid for the first pumper, but still below the Pirsch bid), but with the understanding that the price would go up substantially if the contract was not signed by February 5th. The city council wasted no time, and the contract was signed immediately.

The two new Howe – International pumpers were to replace the two 1958 Seagrave 1000 / 300 open cab pumpers at Station # 3 and Station # 4. On the orders of Chief Beattie, both of the Howe rigs were painted “safety yellow,” had rear-facing jump seats so that firefighters would no longer need to ride on the tailboard, were equipped with electronic sirens to be set in manual mode to reduce noise pollution, and had only one rear discharge port for a 1-1/2 inch pre-connect line, instead of the two rear discharge ports and two 1-1/2-inch pre-connects that had been standard on EFD pumpers since 1958. By eliminating one of the pre-connected attack lines, there would be more room in the hose-bed for larger-diameter hose.

Instead of a second rear discharge port and a second 1-1/2-inch pre-connect hose line, Chief Beattie specified that the new pumpers have a top-mounted booster reel (sometimes called a red line) that could be led-out quickly at a car fire, trash fire, brush fire, or gas wash, and in some cases even at a structure fire. EFD pumpers had not been ordered with booster reels since the Pirsch pumpers in 1952, something Chief Beattie believed was a mistake.  

Besides the new pumpers, the Evanston Fire Department also added a 1974 Dodge van (fleet # 341) for use as a utility vehicle, replacing the 1956 International-Harvester pick-up truck. Located in the shop bay at Fire Station # 1, the van could be used by EFD mechanics to run errands or to respond to a repair job at a fire, on the road, or at one of the four outlying fire stations, as well as to transport manpower and supplies to and from a large fire or other major incident. As with the two new Howe pumpers, Chief Beattie ordered the van be painted “safety yellow.”

Also in 1974, the WWII-era DUKW amphibious vehicle (F-7) that had been in service with the EFD since 1964 and the rescue trailer acquired from the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1954 were taken out service. Some of the equipment and gear carried in the trailer was placed in storage at Station # 1, in the event that it might be needed for a tornado, flood, airplane crash, or some other disaster or mass casualty event. A 17-foot Boston Whaler (the new F-7) with an outboard marine engine and a boat trailer were purchased to replace the DUKW as the EFD’s Lake Michigan rescue vehicle, with a trailer hitch installed on the new van so that it could tow the boat & trailer to the Church Street Boat Ramp if it was needed.

The first of the new Howe – International pumpers arrived in November 1974 and was placed in service at Station # 3 as the new Engine 23 (fleet # 326), and the second Howe – International pumper arrived in May 1975 and was placed in service as the new Engine 24 (fleet # 324) at Station # 4. The 1958 Seagrave pumper that had been running as Engine 23 was placed into reserve at Station # 3 as Engine 26, and the 1958 Seagrave pumper that had been running as Engine 24 was sold at auction.; #EvanstonFD; #FireTruck

photographer unknown

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Evanston Fire Department history (more)

Another historic perspective provided by Phil Stenholm about the Evanston Fire Department:

The Evanston Fire Department (EFD) has been providing ambulance service to the City of Evanston since 1976, athough Evanston firefighters had been responding to “inhalator calls” since 1913.

The Evanston Police Department (EPD) was the ambulance provider pre-1976, running a horse-drawn police ambulance out of its HQ station as far back as the 1890?s.

The EPD acquired an automobile ambulance in 1916 (it was quartered in a bay just to the east of the firehouse at 807 Grove Stree), and then beginning in 1958, the EPD implemented the so-called “Police-Fire Cooperative Plan,” where Evanston Police officers were cross-trained as firefighters.

The cross-trained cops patroled in station-wagons (Car 31, Car 32, and Car 33, they were called at the time), each equipped with a stretcher, an inhalator, first-aid supplies, fire extinguishers, axes, and turnout gear. These two-man Police units responded to inhalator calls, ambulance runs, and fires, in addition to their other police-related activities. (The station-wagons were very soon cut-back to one-man units and new Police Officers were no longer cross-trained as firefighters, but the EPD did continue to provide ambulance service with its three patrol station-wagons).

In addition to the three EPD station-wagons, the Evanston Fire Department maintained three stretcher-equipped staff cars: F-5 (Training Officer) at Station #1, F-1 (Chief’s Buggy) at Station #2, and F-3 (Fire Prevention Inspector) at Station #5, that were used as back-up ambulances (when they weren’t in use eleswhere) in case none of the EPD patrol ambulances were available.

In the Summer of 1974, the Illinois Department of Health loaned an MICU to the Evanston Fire Department for a 90-day trial. The EFD did not have any paramedics at that time and the MICU was not equipped with ALS gear, but it did give the EFD a chance to be the city’s primary ambulance service for a while.

Everybody was favorably impressed (especially the Police Officers, who wanted no part of being ambulance attendants), and the Evanston Fire Department Paramedic Program commenced at St Francis Hospital in 1975, with an eye toward implementing Paramedic & Fire Eepartment ambulance service in 1976.

However, Evanston Mayor Jim Staples wanted the ambulance service to remain in the hands of the Police Department (Staples liked the idea of having ambulances “on the street” 24/7 instead of parked in a firehouse), but even he changed his mind after Police Chief William McHugh said that the EPD was busy enough just dealing with the sky-rocketing crime rate in the city, without having to continue to provide ambulance service, too.

The first ambulance (a 1975 Dodge van MICU with ALS equipment donated by Evanston’s own Washington National Insurance Company) was placed into service at Station #1 in January 1976.

Ambulance 1 was initially staffed by three firefighters (two paramedics and one paramedic trainee), as manpower assigned to Squad 21 was reduced to just a driver. Ambulance 1 responded to all EMS calls anywhere in the city, responding alone to calls in Station #1?s stil district, and with a support engine in other areas.

Once on the scene, the senior paramedic on-board had to determine if the call was BLS or ALS. If it was an ALS call Ambulance 1 would handle it, but if it was determined to be BLS, a police station-wagon ambulance or one of the auxiliary Fire Department station-wagon ambulance would be dispatched to relieve Ambulance 1 and make the transport, so that Ambulance 1 could go back into service ASAP.

During 1976 the City Council approved the purchase of a second MICU ambulance for the Fire Department, and plans were made to staff the two ambulances with two-man crews (both paramedics), and take Squad 21 completely out of service.

In November 1976 Ambulance 1 was nearly demolished in a traffic collision (ambulance was struck broadside by a drunk driver) at Church & Ridge while en route to a call on Dewey Avenue (the three firefighters on-board and a nurse from St. Francis Hospital on a ride-along were injured), and because Ambulance 2 was on order but had not yet arrived, the Skokie Fire Department loaned one of its old Cadillac ambulances to the Evanston F. D.

It wasn’t an MICU, but the Cadillac did run as Ambulance 1 until the new Ambulance 2 arrived a few days later, and then Evanston decided to keep the Cadi as a reserve ambulance. (Evanston purchased the ambulance from Skokie).

The Evanston Fire Department’s second ambulance (Ambulance 2) was placed into service in January 1977, and both Ambulance 1 (the Skokie Cadillac ambulance) and the new MICU modular ambulance were in service at Station #1.

Both ambulances were ALS-equipped and staffed with two paramedics, but Ambulance 2 took all “first-call” EMS runs, and (because it wasn’t an MICU vehicle) Ambulance 1 responded to fire calls, and to EMS calls only if Ambulance 2 was unavailable.

The original Ambulance 1 (the 1975 Dodge van MICU) was eventually repaired and went back into service during 1977. The response plan did not change, however, as Ambulance 2 still took all first- call EMS runs.

The Cadillac ambulance then became Ambulance 3, an unmanned BLS unit that was staffed only when a third ambulance was needed. (ALS gear was purchased for Ambulance 3 in 1978).

Two new Ford modular MICUs were added in 1980, the new Ambulance 1 and the new Ambulance 2. The Cadillac ambulance and the ’75 Dodge van MICU were junked, and the old Ambulance 2 (1977 Dodge modular MICU) became Ambulance 3.

At this point Ambulance 1 and Ambulance 2 were split-up, with Ambulance 1 assigned to Fire Station #1, and Ambulance 2 assigned to Fire Station #2. The border separating the two districts was Dempster Street (same as the border separating Truck 21 and Truck 22). Ambulance 3 was located at Station #1, and was staffed when needed by personnel from Truck Co. 21 (presuming Truck 21 was available)

Within a year both front-line ambulances were back together at Station #1, with A-1 first-due east of Asbury, and A-2 first-due west of Asbury, and Amubulance 3 went to Station #2 and was staffed by personnel from Truck Co. 22 when needed.

The arrangement was altered again in 1982, when the two ambulances began to alternate responses (that was actually my suggestion), with A-1 taking a call, then A-2 would take the next one, then A-1, then A-2, etc. This way, an ambulance crew would know which ambulance was “on the bubble” for the next run, and the one that wasn’t could take a bit of a break. (The two ambulances were very busy back then, and presumably still are)

Ambulance 3 was moved back to Station #1 at this time, staffed when needed by personnel from Truck Co. 21 (which always had two paramedics on-board in case it needed to man A-3).

In 1986, Ambulance 2 was moved to Station #4, and Ambulance 1 was now first-due to calls in Station 1 and Station 3 areas, and Ambulance 2 responded first-due to calls in Stations 2, 4, and 5 areas, with Ambulance 3 in ready-reserve at Station #1. The EFD command staff believed that the two front-line ambulances should be separated to provide faster paramedic response city-wide.

In furtherance of this desire, the “jump company” plan was implemented in 1989. Engine companies 21, 22, and 25 were designated “jump companies,” meaning they were four-man crews with two paramedics among the four, operating as a “two-piece company” (an engine and an ambulance). Engine 23 and 24 no longer responded to EMS calls, and Truck Co. 21 no longer was responsible for manning the third ambulance.

The “jump company” plan did not work out at all, because the three “jump” engine companies would go out of service for long periods of time while on runs, leaving the city with inadequate engine coverage during those periods.

So the “jump company plan” (mostly) went away the next year, as Amblance 21 and Ambulance 22 went back to two-paramedic units at Station #1 and Station #2 respectively, the five engine companies went back to being engine companies, and Truck 21 was relocated to Station #3 (becoming the reborn Truck Co. 23), with Ambulance 23 also now at Fire Station #3 and available to be manned (when needed) by personnel from Station #3.

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