IMERT works to support Illinois by maintaining 24 hour operational readiness to lend medical assistance in times of disaster. Team members include volunteer healthcare professionals and mission support specialists from across the state. Additionally, our focus is to enhance resilience in our communities through education and training to improve the overall capability of the state of Illinois to respond to disaster and mass casualty events.
The IMERT concept emerged in 1999 when a small group of emergency physicians, nurses, and toxicologists met with individuals in the Division of Emergency Medical Services of the Illinois Department of Public Health. The initial intent of the group was to assess the level of awareness and preparedness of emergency department personnel in Illinois to respond to a large-scale WMD event that might overwhelm hospitals and surrounding communities.
Although planning to enhance preparedness for a major incident was underway in many large cities, the Illinois group realized that the state as a whole needed a network of coordinated mutual support and a more systematic approach to responding to a large scale catastrophe. They realized that it was important to develop organized protocols, formalize communications systems and recognize a core of specially prepared responders to assist in case of a mass casualty event, including one resulting from a WMD.
In the summer of 1999, The Illinois Department of Public Health, along with this group, applied for and received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for see funding for the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT) to develop educational and infrastructure to formalize the ability to respond to mass casualty events.
The Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT) is a multi-disciplinary group of volunteers trained to respond to medical disasters and provide interim medical care for survivors or evacuees. The team’s health care professionals are mostly from an emergency background. The logistics, IT, communications and safety specialists come from a variety of backgrounds.
DEPLOYMENTS AND TRAININGS
IMERT has been actively participating in drills, training and deployments since 2003. Our first out of state deployment occurred in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. We had two deployments for that event. The first was sending a large contingent of members to Baton Rouge to the campus at LSU to assist in a field hospital on campus. Several weeks later a team of nurses deployed to New Orleans to assist in staffing at a hospital.
We offer our members ample opportunities to participate in trainings, and when possible deployments. Some of our past deployments include; multiple flooding events around the state, ice storms, other emergencies, and to high profile events in Chicago and Springfield. We deployed to the campus of SIU in 2017 during the total eclipse to provide additional medical coverage for the first responders managing the overwhelming crowds. IMERT often trains with other agencies, local emergency management and hospitals. The focus of these exercises is on mass casualty and how to enhance preparedness and response in rural communities. IMERT provides exercise guidance, personnel, and moulage services. We also assist with training communities on emergency response and provide STOP the Bleed training to school nurses, teachers, and others.