Emergency medical service is the lifeblood of Stevan Vuckovic, D.O.
Besides serving for 18 years as an Emergency Department physician at Franciscan St. Anthony Health Crown Point, Vuckovic has excelled for 15 years as medical director of the hospital’s Emergency Medical Services Training Academy – so much that he recently was honored as the state’s EMS medical director of the year.
He received the award during an annual Indiana Fire Chiefs Association-Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Emergency Response Conference in Indianapolis.
“My name may be on the award, but it is not about me," Vuckovic said. "It is about all the people behind the scenes who made it possible. It is a testament to how robust our EMS program is and about our relationship with the pre-hospital providers who put it on the line every day to make sure our communities are taken care of.”
The academy trains emergency responders from 26 communities.
Vuckovic, 50, of St. John, who is married and has four children, said he was bitten by the desire to help people in distress while in high school, when he served as a lifeguard and a volunteer in a hospital emergency department in Illinois.
“The epiphany came when I was in the high school band. We were rehearsing for a musical and the band director decided to fire off a blank as a sound effect," Vuckovic said.
"He didn’t know the blank contained paper wadding and wounded his hand trying to shield the shot. While everyone else was running away, I ran toward him and applied first-aid (learned as a lifeguard), until the paramedics came.”
Vuckovic finds the most satisfaction in seeing people, especially young ones, survive deadly situations.
“Things like pulling drowning kids out of a lake, or out of a car wrapped around a tree – and then later watching them walk out of the hospital. Those are most rewarding, as has been my entire career. I want to take care of sick people and also have an extraordinary dedication to the responders in the field, because I used to be one.”
Vuckovic said he emulates the leadership style of his mentor, Bernie Heilicser, D.O., emergency medical services director at Ingalls Hospital in Harvey, Ill.
“He taught me to be approachable, and the importance of fostering a good working relationship with the hospital staff and the emergency personnel.”