Horizon Health Emergency Medical Services took its first call at 7:45 a.m. April 17, transporting an emergent cardiac patient. Since that time, the new service has completed 53 calls (as of Tuesday May 1), according to Samantha McCarty, critical care manager for the ambulance project. Pictured in front of one of two new advanced life support ambulances available for use are McCarty, left, and Jesse Lewsader, Horizon Health EMS lead paramedic. (Nancy Zeman/The Prairie Press)

Horizon EMS working

New service certified by state; offers advanced life support ambulances

The new Horizon Health Emergency Medical Services is in operation and as of April 30, had answered 53 calls, according to Samantha McCarty, director of emergency services for Horizon Health.

McCarty, who also serves as the critical care manager for Horizon Health, was the lead for the ambulance project, according to Oliver Smith, Horizon Health president  and chief executive officer.

“I’m very proud of our staff for getting this new service pulled together in a relatively short amount of time,” said Smith. “We’ve chosen excellent people and excellent medical equipment — two necessities in making healthcare delivery successful.”

Smith praised the work of McCarty and the team in putting together the new ambulance service.

“We had some good people working on it and we were not in a hurry,” Smith explained. “Everyone wanted to do it the correct way. We weren’t rushing into it.”

For  EMS to be successful for Horizon Health, Smith emphasized the need to use the 15 people hired to staff the service, “in supportive roles or use in the hospital and clinic.”

“It’s an added resource anywhere in the hospital and clinic to support patient care,” he said.

McCarty noted one EMS employee was recently assigned to sit with a Downs Syndrome patient who was admitted to the hospital for care. “The family knew their loved one was safe. It also freed the nursing staff on the floor to go about their regular duties.”

The EMS team successfully passed inspection and received licensing from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Carle Regional EMS Monday, April 16. Horizon Health EMS went into service at 7 a.m. the following day. 

The service is licensed for two advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) ambulances for both emergent and non-emergent transports. 

Both rigs are staffed with a paramedic and EMT. Each ambulance has cardiac monitors, 12-lead EKGs, Wi-Fi data transmission, bariatric-weighted Striker power cots and all other supplies necessary to administer patient


Jesse Lewsader is the lead paramedic for Horizon Health EMS. 

“Our organization has invested in the latest technology and equipment — for both patient and staff safety,” said McCarty. “Everything is in place to ensure the best care for our community.”

The first call answered by the service was 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, Aprl 17, she said. This call demonstrates how the service can make a difference.

A patient walked into the Paris ER on April 17 complaining of chest pain  —  which is not uncommon — she said.

“Within seconds it was determined by the ER team that the patient was experiencing a massive heart attack,” she recalled. “The patient was rapidly treated and transported to a heart cath lab in Terre Haute. The total time from the time the patient presented to the ER until he was in the cath lab ready to have his blockage removed was 34 minutes.”

McCarty said the response was record time for life-saving and heart muscle-saving which shows exemplary teamwork by all Horizon Health services.

“I hope this patient story helps everyone better understand that in true emergencies seconds matter and by having ambulances on site, we can help our patients have the best possible chance at positive outcomes,” she said.

McCarty emphasized, however, if someone is experiencing a real medical emergency, residents need to continue to call the county’s 9-1-1 service.

“If you are truly experiencing an emergency, it’s always the right thing to call 9-1-1,” McCarty explained. “Those dispatchers are specially trained to manage the emergency and ensure responding parties get to the right location in the least amount of time. Horizon Health EMS will stand ready to assist all area emergency responders as an integral part of the emergency medical system.”

The primary work currently being done by the EMS service includes transfers from the ER, nursing homes or similar responses such as returning a patient home after treatment.

Smith said Horizon Health has reached out to other ambulance services in the county — including Kansas and the Northern Edgar County Ambulance Service — “to see if we can be of any service. We are interested in working with all area emergency responders,” he said. “There are no division lines or barriers.”

Horizon Health has also reached out to all area EMS to offer help, Smith said. “This is not about invading a space. It’s about providing the best possible services.”

“With our anticipated growth, we do still have employment opportunities for EMS professionals,” said Lewsader, Horizon Health EMS lead paramedic. 

The EMS numbers  thus far Smith said, “show that my numbers were correct. We’re right where we need to be and growth is coming.”

Smith emphasized the addition of services is all about the continuum of care.

“We are working for a streamlined flow with healthcare services,” he noted. “It’s all about providing a better experience with our patients and providing the best quality of care.” 

Healthcare is continually evolving, Smith said. “We’ll continue to rise to that challenge — assessing what services make sense for our organization and the communities we serve.”

The Prairie Press

101 Central Avenue Paris, IL 61944