Emergency Medical Services

By 1960, concern for the rising death rate among victims of traumatic injuries in Illinois prompted state government to begin planning to coordinate community resources for the purposes of decreasing the risk of accidents, improving the quality of emergency services and developing a comprehensive network of emergency medical services responsive to the varied needs of all the citizens of Illinois.  A  plan was developed and, in 1971, then-Governor Richard B. Ogilvie formed a committee by executive order that worked to implement its proposals, including the establishment of training for emergency medical technicians (EMTs), physician training and a trauma nurse specialist (TNS) course. Again by executive order, Governor Ogilvie directed the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to establish the Division of Emergency Medical Services and Highway Safety, which was authorized July 1, 1971.

A cornerstone of the Division’s initial efforts was a three-tiered designation system (i.e., regional, area wide and local) for trauma centers throughout the state.  Local and area wide trauma centers were to direct appropriate patients to the regional centers through patient referral agreements.  The fledgling program had a beneficial impact, but it would not be until later, when stronger enabling legislation was enacted, that a sophisticated trauma system emerged.

In 2004, the name of the Division was changed from Emergency Medical Services and Highway Safety to the Division of Emergency Medical Systems and Highway Safety.  This small change was done to reflect our role in the overall system, and the distinction that the Division does not actually provide medical services.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Emergency Medical Systems (EMS) & Highway Safety funding  comes from: State of Illinois General Revenue Fund (GRF), State Trauma Center Fund, HHS-ASPR Hospital Preparedness Grant, National Highway Traffic Safety Act Grant, EMS Assistance Fund, and fees for issuing and renewing licenses for pre-hospital personnel and ambulances.

IDPH collects and provides statewide data for:

  • Pre-hospital emergency medical services "run" reports;
  • Trauma;
  • Head and spinal cord injuries; and
  • Violent injuries

These data are used for developing EMS education, evaluating patient and EMS outcomes, research, policy evaluation and development, and rating studies. Illinois submits EMS data to the National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) national data repository on a quarterly basis.

IDPH also maintains the Hospital Bypass and State Disaster Reporting System that provides current data to the Department and hospitals on the status of hospital emergency departments and other hospital resources.