Stanley M. Zydlo, MD “Father of Paramedics” Founder of First Emergency Medical System in Illinois Dies

FIRE OPS 101 in Glenview in 2010: Stanley M. Zydlo, M.D. demonstrates Endotracheal Intubation at elapsed time 00:34 through 00:55.

Stanley M. Zydlo, M.D. — the founder of the Northwest Community EMS system and board certified Emergency Medicine physician — died last night after he was admitted with an illness to Northwest Community Hospital.

“He was a force for good that changed the world of EMS and his passing marks the end of an era. We are all his living legacy and the mantle falls to us to continue his vision and work in faithful duty to serve the healthcare needs of future generations.”

— Connie Mattera, EMS Administrative Director & System Coordinator

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 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. Dr. Stanley Zydlo, Arlington Heights Fire Department Captain Jack Benson, Inverness resident Jan Schwettman and others organized the paramedic program locally. The EMS program would become the Northwest Community Emergency Medical Service System.

Inverness resident Jan Schwettman urged Dr. Zydlo to initiate a paramedic program, and Zydlo began the innovative hard work work to overcome logistic hurdles and make legislative changes to legalize a new professional that would work side-by-side with doctors and nurses.

The Northwest Community System is composed of a Resource Hospital (Northwest Community Hospital), five associate hospitals and twenty-four provider agencies (fire departments and private ambulance companies) covering the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The Northwest Community Emergency Medical Service System has the distinction of being the first advanced life support system in the State of Illinois and the first multi-jurisdictional EMS system in the country.

The associate hospitals in the Northwest Community EMS System are …

Alexian Brothers Medical Center, located in Elk Grove Village
Adventist Glen Oaks Hospital, located in Glendale Heights
Good Shepherd Hospital, located in Barrington
Resurrection Medical Center, located in Chicago
St. Alexius Medical Center, located in Hoffman Estates

Not only was the emergency medical physician responsible for managing a superb Emergency Room and paramedic system, Dr. Stanley M. Zydlo, M.D. was responsible for training thousands of paramedics through the years. He 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.

Stanley M. Zydlo, M.D. demanded the best from those he trained and directed. His energy brought out the best in people. The “Father of Paramedics” was affectionately called “GodZydlo” in the days of his direct leadership.


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