“We Can Do That!” This phrase may not have been invented by Earl J. Field, but it is, certainly, a common everyday phrase that has become a part of the corporate philosophy of Paramedic Services of Illinois, Inc.
In 1968, Earl Field returned to this area after serving two years with the United States Army as a combat medic during the Viet Nam War. To supplement his income, he procured a part-time job with a private ambulance service, Berz Ambulance. During his tenure, Berz purchased the ambulance business from a company known as Aero Sick Room Supplies and Ambulance Service. The owner was retiring and selling the business. Earl always had the desire to go into his own business, so he arranged to purchase the sick room supply business from Aero. He opened his doors on January 2, 1970.
Expansion of the business resulted from the experience of delivering hospital beds to patients’ homes. Invariably, in the process of setting up the bed, an ambulance would bring the patient home. Earl’s comment at the time was “we can do that”. He expanded the business to include ambulance service. Earl was advised against it. This was not a particularly opportune time to enter the private ambulance business due to the “ambulance scandals” in the City of Chicago. The City of Chicago was forced into the ambulance business due to the ineptitude of the private services. The attitude Earl had at the time was “there is a better way”. The ambulance service that Earl developed was known as Town & Country Ambulance.
In 1974, Earl made the commitment to train the personnel and equip the ambulances to provide advanced life support (paramedic service). Town & Country was the first private ambulance service to provide paramedics in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area.
Earl attended the first paramedic class offered by Loyola University Medical Center. There were two firemen from the Franklin Park Fire Department in class with him. Franklin Park had made a commitment to the citizens to provide paramedic service. There were two problems. There were no other fire departments in close proximity to Franklin Park to provide backup, and there was one firefighter in paramedic class at Resurrection Hospital. He would not complete class for a month and a half beyond Loyola’s graduation, so the program was essentially on hold until his graduation. Upon hearing the dilemma facing Franklin Park, Earl, again, said “we can do that”.
In October of 1974, Earl volunteered his time to fill that third position until the firefighter completed the class. In addition, Town & Country Ambulance dedicated one of its three ambulances to provide backup for Franklin Park. When Franklin Park responded to an emergency, Town & Country would head for Franklin Park and remain in the station until Franklin Park’s ambulance returned in service. In November of 1974, due to the industry in the area and the heavy day-time population, Town & Country was asked to keep an ambulance in Franklin Park’s station from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM during the week.
By January 1975, Franklin Park asked to keep the ambulance in the station 24 hours per day. In February 1975, Town & Country purchased a fourth ambulance, dedicated to Franklin Park. There was only one problem. Franklin Park did not have the funding to pay for the services. Those who said it couldn’t be done seemed to have the upper hand. But, they did not know Earl very well. “We can do this” prevailed. In July of 1975, Town & Country’s first agreement was signed with the Village of Franklin Park, and the concept of private service working and living with the firefighters was born.
In the next few years, three more communities signed agreements. In 1978 Earl could see the direction the company was taking. After careful research and deliberation, he decided to sell the private ambulance service and the sick room supply business. The company that emerged was Paramedic Services of Illinois, Inc. All resources were dedicated to providing contractual paramedic service to municipalities and fire protection districts in suburban Chicago.
Over the years, many more communities took advantage of the most cost-effective means of providing paramedics to the residents. Many saw the value of cross-training the paramedics as firefighters. Currently, we serve a number of suburban communities, and the critical care transport ambulance at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, with our dedicated professional personnel.
The story does not end here. In the past few years, we have initiated services to provide a continuation of employment for those loyal employees who are not ready to leave Paramedic Services of Illinois. We now provide professional ambulance billing services and hospice paramedic personnel within the home health care industry. These paramedics provide medical services and comfort to the patients near the end of their lives, as well as the patients’ families.
March 20, 2009 was a sad day for the members of the PSI family. Our founder, Earl J. Field, lost his battle with cancer. In Spite of the loss, PSI continues his legacy. Earl built the foundation for excellence that carries on in his absence. PSI’s staff continues the tradition of providing high quality, cost-effective, customized paramedic service that pays attention to details and strives for the highest level of patient care possible.
Although Earl’s life ended too early, it was the palliative care and comfort of the hospice team that Earl and his family relied upon prior to his death. This is one example of how the legacy of Earl J. Field lives on within Paramedic Service of Illinois, Good Samaritan Hospital, his home community of Norridge, and numerous other organizations. We truly miss Earl but we don’t have to look too far to be reminded of him on a daily basis as we provide the care and comfort to each patient we encounter in his honor.