Jan Brooks

Paramedic & Field Training Officer
Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service of Illinois
Elmhurst, IL

Janet Brooks began her career with Superior Air-ground Ambulance Service, Inc. back in December 1992. After spending her early professional career in Food Service, which included management with K-Mart and McDonald’s, she grew unhappy with the inability to do what she really wanted to do—follow in the footsteps of her mother, a cardiac nurse, and help others. 

As a small child Janet would find all types of small, wounded animals and bring them to her mother to see how they could help them heal. Some lived and some died, but that didn’t deter Janet.

At the age of 15 she became “Candy Striper” volunteering her Saturdays to deliver mail and flowers to sick patients at the hospital where her mother worked. After her shift was over, she would go up to her mother’s unit, where (under supervision) she was allowed to help care for patients.

Janet volunteered this way for two years, during which she learned how to perform CPR. It was impossible to predict how this training would pay off in the future, until…

While camping on vacation in Rapid City, South Dakota, tragedy struck. Janet witnessed a young female being pulled from the pool in an apparent drowning.  Janet swiftly swam to the other side of the pool, jumped out of the water, and asked if anyone knew CPR. Janet was met with blank stares and asked someone to call 911. Janet, now 18, tried to remember her CPR training from 3 years back. She performed chest compressions and gave mouth-to-mouth the best she could until the young victim began to cough up pool water. Janet quickly turned the victim onto her side so she wouldn’t aspirate and covered her up with towels to keep her warm. In the distance, Janet heard the wail of the sirens of the inbound ambulance. The victim was then taken to the waiting ambulance and was quickly whisked away.

That is when the shock hit Janet. With the assistance of her friend’s father, Janet was taken to their camper shaking uncontrollably. Doubts ran through her min. “What if I didn’t perform CPR correctly? Did I do more harm than good?” But she guessed doing something, even imperfectly, was better than doing nothing at all.

Once she calmed down, Janet called home to tell her family how her vacation was going so far. She was able to see the Black Hills from their campsite. She was going to see Mt Rushmore and that she had just saved a drowning victim. Her mother began to cry and was grateful her daughter was where she needed to be at that time and place. Janet’s mother contacted the volunteer office and thanked them for requiring that hospital volunteers learn CPR. Janet still has the article that was written about her in the hospital’s newsletter.

Janet attended a local Community College where she has an associate degree in criminal justice. Her desire was to further her schooling, but money was in short supply. So, Janet began to work at McDonald’s on campus. Janet worked her way up to Assistant Manager in just a few short years. Janet worked for Mcdonald’s for 12 years and was also working part-time at a local K-Mart.

The day Janet witnessed a cat being hit by a car changed her life. A woman standing on the side of the street picked up the cat and began to run toward the local Fire Department. Janet, who was driving by in her car, yelled to the woman to get in and she would then drive them to an area animal hospital. Sadly, the cat—who belonged to the woman’s daughter—died of a broken back. Janet then asked where her daughter was, trying to make small talk to take the uncomfortable silence away while driving the woman and the dead cat to their animal hospital 30 minutes away. The woman said that her daughter worked at the local zoo and that she should call her. Janet informed the woman that she should wait until her daughter came home from work to inform her that her pet had been killed. The woman agreed and thanked Janet for helping her out in her time of need. The woman asked Janet what she did for a living and Janet told her she worked for McDonald’s but was unhappy due to her being passed over as a Store Manager. Janet asked the woman what she did for a living and the woman stated she was going to school to become an EMT. Janet always wanted to work on an ambulance but had no idea how to go about doing so. The woman then told Janet that she had what it took to become an EMT, she helped a stranger in her time of need. She told Janet that if she was serious about a career change, she would talk to her instructor and get Janet into the next class. Janet enrolled in the next EMT class.

Following her hire, Janet worked hard at Superior. After her day shift, she would volunteer her time on an ALS rig so she could learn as much as possible.

Janet was the first station manager to have a station at a local hospital where she attended their Paramedic program. Janet was in the 1996-1997 Paramedic class, all the while running a station. Once she graduated, she stepped down as a manager to begin her career as a Paramedic.

Janet tested into one of Illinois’ most prestigious EMS systems, Northwest Community Hospital. Janet is a FTO and a Paramedic Preceptor. Janet was also an EMS Coordinator working between NWC and Superior.

Janet has been influential in helping save the Company thousands of dollars with the development of the pack system. Janet and her former station manager were tired of throwing away dirty supplies and began to use Seal-A-Meal to package supplies to help keep them clean and organized. Superior adapted the program and uses it to this very day.

Janet works a 24-hour shift and serves at special events like concerts, sporting events, and the Chicago Marathon. In 2004, Janet was part of a deployment for then President-Elect Barack Obama’s Inauguration to head to Washington D.C. to provide EMS services while the D.C. paramedics took care of the events at the Capitol. Janet has worked on several movie shoots and an episode of Extreme Home Makeover.

Janet is a team player when it comes to helping new station managers become acclimated to the station and the crew members. She takes on the role of making sure the station has the supplies needed. In fact, Janet is known at her station as Momma Jan. She makes sure that the station is clean, that rigs are stocked appropriately, and reminds the crews to be safe and have a great day.

Janet enjoys listening to music, concerts, and jigsaw puzzles. When Janet isn’t working, she is at home with her wife of 12 years and their two rescue dogs. Janet and her wife are very active with their church. They prepare meals for the food and housing insecure in their community. They serve meals for the PADS Interim Housing Center. As well as two senior complexes for food insecurity with the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Janet also volunteers at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

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