A Big Debt of Thanks and Honor in Paying Respects to Stanley M. Zydlo, MD — December 15, 1933 – June 3, 2015

VIDEO: Funeral services for Stanley M. Zydlo, M.D. at St. Theresa Catholic Church and St. Michael Cemetery in Palatine.

Dr. Stanley M. Zydlo’s funeral was held today at 10:00 a.m. at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Palatine.

Rev. Brian Simpson called him a saint during his eulogy while firefighters called him one of their own and honored him with a “Last Alarm” Bell Service following the chapel service at St. Michael Cemetery in Palatine.

A Major in the USAF, Strategic Air Command and former chief of emergency medical services at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Stanley Mathew Zydlo, M.D. founded the first multi-community EMS system and became Project Medical Director and “Father of Paramedics” in Illinois during his vibrant career.

“Saints are not those who do it for the glory, but those who do what needs to be done. So I think we can call Stan a saint.”

— Rev. Brian Simpson

Dr. Zydlo is famous for effectively getting things done, fighting red tape, training thousands of paramedics, rolling up his sleeves and working alongside those paramedics — all with a down-to-earth sense of humor. He moved to Chicago from Indiana in 1969 and joined the emergency room staff at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. Inverness resident Jan Scwettman urged him to begin a program that would become the paramedic program we know today. In 1972 he organized a meeting of Northwest suburban fire officials and proposed the idea of training and certifying firefighters in emergency medicine.

Also in 1972 the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Special Projects Office established in the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare (DHEW) created five demonstration projects nationwide that were funded by DHEW with $7.9 million. Illinois was among those projects and a paramedic program was inaugurated in Arlington Heights and other northwest suburbs.

During the summer of 1972 Dr. Zydlo led the innovative hard work to overcome logistic hurdles and liability hurdles and make legislative changes to legalize a new professional “the paramedic” that would work side-by-side with doctors and nurses. Not all doctors and nurses — and lawyers — were initially responsive to the idea. Because the Northwest Community “mobile intensive care program” was established before it could be mandated by political or government officials, it evolved as a medical program. By using the employees of fire departments and private ambulance companies as paramedics, the project revived a modern version of the ancient legal concept of the “borrowed servant. The EMS program would become the highly respected Northwest Community Emergency Medical Service System after the passage of Senate Bill 1571 on June 28 1972. The bill was signed in Rolling Meadows on August 13, 1972.

On December 1, 1972, the paramedic system based out of Northwest Community Hospital was activated. At 8:00 a.m., the switch was thrown on the radio-receiving module at Northwest Community Hospital. Paramedics could now talk to emergency room physicians from their telemetry radios and send EKGs over the radio to the Emergency Room physician.

At 8:13 a.m. December 1, 1972, Northwest Community Hospital received its first contact from a Buffalo Grove Fire Department MICU or Mobile Intensive Care Unit. The crew on the Buffalo Grove Fire Department ambulance had responded to the aid of the wife of a volunteer fireman. She had suffered an accidental overdose. Icy roads made the transport to the hospital especially slow. Without the Advanced Life Support services of the new firefighter/paramedics, the patient would probably have died.

Stanley M. Zydlo, MD was personally involved in training paramedics and was dedicated to the Socratic method of instruction — leading trainees with inquiry and discussion as training scenarios unfolded. His method was deliberately intended to teach paramedics to think and react independently to emergency situations they might face in the field. His methods are the reason the EMS system in Illinois is one of the best types of professional service of any category in the world.

Retired firefighters, retired fire chiefs, and retired nurses — some from across the United States — joined local fire officials and physicians in paying their respects to Stanley M. Zydlo, M.D.


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