We’re kicking off Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week 2023 by speaking with Cory Heuchert from the Madison County, Illinois, Emergency Management Agency. He discusses his important work, his dedicated colleagues and how FirstNet®, Built with AT&T was key to keeping people safe during a huge new NASCAR race in his community.
Q: Why are you so committed to volunteer service?
A: I began in the fire service as a volunteer at the rural department I grew up with. After getting hired at the fire department I work at now, I continued to volunteer at my original department for a couple years. My father, my mother and my grandfather were all volunteers. It’s kind of in my blood.
Q: What part of the work do you like the most?
A: The part of this job I like the most is the way it changes all the time. You never seem to run into the same situation twice. You never know what might be coming, but being able to step up to that challenge is what makes it interesting for me.
Q: What qualities do you value the most in your team members?
A: I value hard work, skill and dedication. I appreciate it when someone has the confidence to tell me that I’m either doing something wrong or they have a better suggestion on how to approach or solve a situation. I’ve never claimed to have all the answers. Most of what I’ve learned over the years has been because I didn’t do something correctly. Unless you have somebody confident enough to point out what it is that’s being done wrong, you’ll never be able to see or understand how to keep from making that same mistake twice.
Q: What are the most important aspects of public safety communications work in an emergency?
A: I think the most important aspect to working comms in public safety is to have a decent understanding of how your communication skills and your equipment can be best utilized for each discipline. Fire and EMS agencies have a specific set of objectives and tactics to mitigate an incident. Law Enforcement has their own as well, sometimes lining up with Fire/EMS, sometimes not. Knowing how your equipment can best support each of those agencies and their varying operational needs can put you in the position of getting them the right plan and right resources to allow them to successfully manage the incident or event.
Q: How did you feel about winning the Madison County EMA Volunteer of the Year Award in 2022?
A: I was humbled. I’m a member of a large team of very dedicated people who work very hard to train, practice and prepare for all types of crises and large-scale events, together. Being picked as the one last year by those team members was an honor and motivated me to continue to handle my area of responsibility to the best of my ability.
Q: Madison County EMS is a FirstNet customer, but your first experience working with the local FirstNet team on a big event was the Illinois 300. How did that go?
A: This was the first time I’ve ever interacted with people from FirstNet. As far as EMS is concerned, we used our FirstNet routers and our FirstNet phones and devices to track all our patients and we were actually streaming live camera footage from the entire area so we could have a visual representation of what was going on. Just the fact that they (FirstNet) started so early helping us with planning…there wasn’t a “who do I need to talk to?” There wasn’t a “who do I need to call?” They were just there.
FirstNet and the FirstNet logo are registered trademarks and service marks of the First Responder Network Authority. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.