McHenry County Emergency Services
You dial 911 and help is immediately on its way. Learn how McHenry County emergency services works to keep us safe.
In McHenry County you see an unparalleled commitment and extraordinarily high level of service from paid, on-call and volunteers who provide the fire and emergency medical service responses to thousands of residents and non-residents annually.
Growth Is Not the Exception But the Rule
The complexity of staffing, financing and maintaining a high level of service can be, at times, an extraordinary challenge. The county’s evolution over the past 20 years has brought many changes. For example, separate rescue squads and fire departments in many of the communities have consolidated to single departments with paid, on-premise personnel. This has been a dynamic process that is still in motion.
McHenry handles more than 4,500 calls annually supported by five fire stations and more than 165 personnel. The management and maintenance of the 911-response capability is challenging, yet it continues to evolve and grow to support the needs of the community.
For example, in 1981, Spring Grove had 119 fire and EMS calls; 51 were specifically fire calls. That is less than one per week. In 2007, Spring Grove Fire Protection District experienced 664 calls and anticipates close to 725 in 2008.
McHenry County has grown dramatically, particularly in the last 10 to 15 years. The evolution of the conventional volunteer fire departments or volunteer rescue squads has reached the level where paid, on-premise or paid, on-call personnel in both are mandatory. This brings about staffing issues that go along with maintaining the service level and growth in the county.
Consider the service that was provided 20 to 25 years ago regarding the sheer number of fire, EMS and rescue calls. When you compound the number of calls with the levels of services that are now provided—which include high-level paramedic EMS services, specialized response team capabilities, along with conventional fire suppression and proactive fire and EMS programs—the modifications that have been made and the dramatic changes are impressive to say the very least.
McHenry County is home to 31 communities, 18 townships, numerous highways, intersections, industrial plants, commercial proprieties and thousands of homes. Emergency responses are a well-orchestrated production.
One interesting aspect of the dramatic progress is the evolution of the combination of male and female personnel into today’s fire and EMS departments. This hasn’t always been the case. The opportunity for equalizing the support has also played an active role in augmenting the need and the emergency response in virtually every community.
Mutual Aid Increases Efforts
The availability of mutual aid among communities has substantially increased all facets of the emergency response systems in the county. Most recently, for example, the municipalities of Wonder Lake, Hebron, Spring Grove and Richmond created a Fire North Response System, which supports every appropriate call from each of the four municipalities. It was initially formed to address daytime staffing issues. However, it became apparent to the four municipalities that they could also augment their high level of community service by enhancing mutual aid pacts.
In McHenry County, 75 to 80 percent of the calls are medical and accident related. Mutual aid for fire suppression—whether it is an industrial structure fire or a home fire—or for medical emergencies is a well-organized system for response.
McHenry County has the accessibility of the Flight For Life-Northern Illinois helicopter program based out of Northern Illinois Medical Center in McHenry. Flight For Life’s highly specialized medical crews support the county’s fire and emergency medical personnel. Lives are saved because of the interaction between medical, fire and Flight For Life. The county’s residents are well-protected and have access to some of the finest medical support and fire service in the country.
McHenry County residents are fortunate to have qualified personnel with the capabilities and services to be caring and responsive.