OCC Grad, Jack Fleeharty, EMT Division Chief
Division Chief of the Division of EMS and Highway Safety in Springfield, IL
An emergency medical technician for nearly 25 years, Jack Fleeharty always wanted to work as a state regional EMS coordinator. Although a licensed paramedic, the Olney resident knew he needed an RN degree to even land an interview for the position.
Determined to reach his goal, Fleeharty enrolled in the Associate Degree Nursing Program at Olney Central College. Through the Southeastern Illinois Healthcare Consortium Grant, he was able to continue working while taking classes at night and completing clinicals on the weekends.
“The nursing program here is awesome,” he said. “The nursing instructors would take the time to really answer our questions. They would teach you and were very helpful. There was a lot of one-on-one interaction and they knew who you were. The instructors here provide the teaching that is critical to our success. They encouraged us to be successful, to stay focused, to continue to learn and to continue to study. I thought they prepared us to go into the professional world and to be successful in whatever we do.”
During his clinicals, Fleeharty witnessed the outstanding reputation the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges: Olney Central College Nursing Program enjoys.
“The IECC nursing students were very well respected, especially in Evansville. It was good to know that even 85 miles away from home, people respect and recognize the quality of this program and its students,” he added.
Fleeharty received his associate’s degree in nursing in 2007. In April 2008, he interviewed for a state regional EMS coordinator post with the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Office of Preparedness and Response and was hired.
“My nursing degree was the key to getting the job,” he said. “It provided the background I needed.”
Just 11 months later, Fleeharty was promoted to Division Chief of the Division of EMS and Highway Safety in Springfield.
In his new post, Fleeharty oversees 59 Level I and Level II trauma centers and 64 medical emergency services system hospitals in Illinois as well as the state’s more than 600 ambulance providers. The department also handles educational training and licensing for more than 64,592 first responders, basic and intermediate EMTs, paramedics and emergency room communication nurses and pre-hospital and trauma nurse specialists. The division also is charged with medical transport licensing including the licensing and inspection of the state’s 13 aero-medical programs.
Other responsibilities include supervising the Emergency Medical Services for Children program as well as regulating the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act and investigating those who are not in compliance. The division also administers disaster preparedness programs.
The job is both challenging and rewarding, said Fleeharty, who as division chief must frequently travel across the state to the 11 EMS regions his office oversees.
“I really like the diversity of it,” Fleeharty said of the position. “I deal with everything from government rules and regulations to speaking to legislators, to dealing with the H1N1 outbreak. I even worked at the unified area command center during the flooding along the Mississippi River last spring. But, none of this would have been possible without my nursing degree.”