The History of “CHUG”

The concept of the Collaborative Healthcare Urgency Group (CHUG) began in the late 1990’s, when Connie Polke, a licensed respiratory therapist, recognized the frailty of patients/residents within healthcare facilities, and became concerned about their well-being in cases of emergency. Several years earlier, Bill Pretzer, a Battalion Chief for the Park Ridge Illinois Fire Department, was called out to a flooding event at a local nursing facility, and experienced first hand, the dangers of inadequate preparation as well as the complications of moving these fragile individuals. Both Connie and Bill began working together to develop, not only evacuation strategies and planning, but also created an executable, collaborative program to safely transport patients/residents with functional needs, to facilities equipped to accommodate their unique needs.

Shortly after the events of 9/11, Connie and Bill applied for, and received the designation of 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization, and solidified their efforts to develop this collaborative program. Events like 9/11, or even Hurricane Katrina showed that emergency personnel can quickly become overextended, and are forced to move these fragile patients/residents to a temporary place of safety, like a local gym or community center. Sometimes, they are unable to respond at all, leaving the facility on its own. In both events, we all witnessed the heartbreaking results with significant loss of life. The CHUG program was designed to work in conjunction with, yet independently of emergency management teams, to safely transport patients/residents to other member facilities, and then return them to their home facility when it is ready to reopen.

Today, CHUG is a proven program that has close to 450 member facilities and  a multitude of transportation providers in an ever-growing in the Midwest including the States of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.  Each facility is trained and prepared to either shelter-in-place, or utilize the collaboration to help evacuate or receive patients during emergency situations.

CHUG is a recognized expert in the field of functional needs evacuations and emergency preparedness, and are active advisors to state and municipal governing bodies, members of emergency planning committees, and consultants/trainers to individual facilities that are looking to build or improve their emergency preparedness programs.

Plus, CHUG is On-Call 24/7/365 to respond and support sheltering-in-place or to facilitate actual evacuations.

To learn more about CHUG membership, please click here