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Ms. Mary Hollack, Emergency Medical Technician and Instructor, Chicago Fire Department Academy
May 2, 2012

Mary Hollack began her career as an emergency medical technician about 25 years ago in rural Illinois. She has worked for seventeen years in Chicago and the last twelve for the Chicago Fire Department. She now serves as an instructor in the Chicago Police and Fire Training Academy supervising the training of the city’s paramedics.

Ms. Hollack and her fellow paramedics care for patients before they are brought to hospital emergency rooms. They treat and stabilize patients suffering from heart attacks, broken bones, or injuries from automobile accidents or shootings. Often they are concerned with managing a patient’s airway by inserting a breathing tube in the patient.

Not long ago, Ms. Hollack took an advanced course offered by Rush Medical Center. Rather than dissection in a medical school anatomy course, this class used whole bodies to give paramedics the opportunity to practice life-saving procedures in simulated real-life situations. “There were twenty paramedic students and four bodies. It was a very interesting experience. We got to practice techniques we use in the field. It was a much better learning experience, a way to practice procedures, to get comfortable doing things. Every paramedic should take this course. It’s a way of practicing procedures without the fear of causing harm to someone.”

She said that course provided a good deal of practice in advance life-support techniques. “We practiced intubation and chest compression in a safe instructional environment. We had time to learn how to do these procedures properly. We also learned what happens if you do it wrong. I thought the course was most useful for trauma situations, intubation and chest compression.”

“The Rush class covered everything we do, and even some procedures that are more advanced. This training with cadavers provides a true-to-life situation. It made me more comfortable, more sure of myself, more confident. The more you know, the better you will be to help someone. Doing things makes it better.”

In the turbulence of an accident scene or a fire, the skills and confidence of a paramedic can make a crucial difference in the outcome. Through your whole body donation, Chicago’s paramedics are getting the training they need to provide expert emergency care.


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