CONNIE POLKE, CRT - Executive Director
Connie is the Executive Director of the Collaborative Healthcare Urgency Group (CHUG), and a Respiratory Care Practitioner and Account Manager for Advocate Home Health Services. Connie has brought together extended care facilities, fire and police departments, transportation organizations, hospitals, emergency management, and other healthcare facilities, to collaborate on emergency preparedness plans for the community and special needs populations. Connie is the founder of CHUG, which was established in 1997. As Executive Director, she has been instrumental in the development of CHUG’s Standard Operating Guidelines, educational programs and exercises for evacuation, infectious disease outbreak, and hospitals. Her responsibilities include facilitating training, organizing tabletop and hands on exercises for the members, and oversight of CHUG’s growth. She has been nominated for the 2009 American Red Cross “Hero of the Year Award” for her involvement with flooding disasters in 2008. She serves as a Board Member on the Salvation Army Golden Diners and Elgin Senior Service Provider Network.
BILL PRETZER, M.A. - Director of Operations
Bill is a recently retired 31-year veteran of the Fire Service. As a Battalion Chief, Bill was responsible for Emergency Response, Disaster Preparedness and Health and Safety for the department. Bill has an Associates Degree in Sports Medicine, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Pre-med from Northeastern Illinois University and a Master’s Degree in Safety and Health Administration from De Paul University. Bill is also a graduate and class president of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. For the past 16 years, Bill has been the Director of Operations and Training for the Collaborative Healthcare Urgency Group (CHUG). Bill is an experienced educator, facilitator and consultant working with major corporations, local government, utilities and the commuter rail industry. Bill estimates, conservatively, that he has taught over 3000 classes during his career. Bill also has over 25 years of firsthand experience in developing and implementing healthcare facility emergency operations and evacuation plans. Bill is also very active in community and regional disaster planning, currently participating in projects with the FEMA, the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, The Regional Catastrophic Planning team, State of Illinois, Cook County, The City Chicago and many other communities. Bill was also the 2010 recipient of the American Red Cross Hero Award for Disaster Relief.