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Savings from Public Safety Volunteer Service

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McHenry County has numerous dedicated volunteers that serve residents and help keep costs down. For the year 2018, public safety volunteers have logged 4,832.25 hours resulting in unrealized savings of $119,308.25.

Why Is It Important?

  • Volunteers help provide McHenry County residents with quality services that may not be available otherwise.
  • Volunteers make sure that McHenry County residents receive quality services without increasing the property tax levy.
  • Volunteers enhance the connection between community members and the County.

Relationship to Strategic Plan Long-Term Goal: Operate at the Lowest Possible Tax Levy

Volunteers are members the McHenry County community that take time away from their families and friends to serve their neighbors. The County is grateful for all that their many hours of community service and encourages its departments to facilitate opportunities for residents to volunteer. When residents volunteer, they make it so the County may provide services that it could not otherwise afford, or so the County may provide services without increasing property taxes. These savings are ‘unrealized’ savings, meaning that taxpayers would have paid them, but for the intervention of the volunteers. These unrealized savings are yet another example of how McHenry County is working hard to operate at the lowest possible tax levy.


This measurement is calculated by taking the rate of $24.69 per hour, (the value of volunteer time according to, and multiplying it by the number of volunteer hours recorded.


The Public Safety key area has robust volunteer corps, the Volunteer Services Unit and the five divisions of volunteers serving with the Emergency Management Agency.

Volunteer Services Unit

Sheriff Prim wanted citizens of McHenry County to have the opportunity to be more involved with the Sheriff’s Office, so he developed the Volunteer Services Unit. Members of the Volunteer Services Unit have various duties, some of which may include:

  • Staffing community relations and crime prevention events
  • Assisting with community special events such as parades, National Night Out, and the Sheriff’s Open House
  • Performing traffic control
  • Providing facility tours
  • Giving community presentations on crime prevention and public safety topics
  • Instructing IDNR Snowmobile Safety and Boat Safety classes
  • Assisting with SWAT and active shooter training
  • Performing upkeep of the Volunteer squad

The original Volunteer Services Unit comprised of four volunteers in 2015. Since then, the Volunteer Unit has grown to fifteen active members.

Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Volunteer Divisions

Ground Search and Rescue (SAR) Team: This division is comprised of volunteer professionals that are trained in crime scene preservation, evidence searches, ground search techniques, first aid, and CPR. SAR Team can provide search incident management and assist law enforcement and other public service agencies. SAR Team assists with:

  • Missing/Lost persons
  • Walk-away elderly persons
  • Evidence searches
  • Any incident where coordinated ground search is required

Mass Care Division: This division protects evacuees and other disaster victims from the effects of the disaster. The Mass Care Division supports:

  • Sheltering operations (including household pets)
  • Mass feeding operations
  • Distribution of emergency supplies
  • Family reunification support
  • Immediate health, emotional and spiritual care and support services
  • Access to disaster information to affected individuals

Communications & Weather Division: This division provides communications support in the event of a local or countywide communication failure or when additional trained communicators are needed. The division provides further support during times of inclement weather. The Communications & Weather Division:

  • Provides real time information about inclement weather to the public safety agencies and NWS, via its vast network of EMA and Amateur Radio weather spotters
  • Sets up and staffs a temporary communications network in the event of localized outages
  • Supports community events by facilitating communication  

Rehab Support Division: This division rehabilitates first responders during an incident by providing an area for rest, rehydration, and medical evaluation that is protected from the elements during inclement weather.

Support Division: This division is responsible for:

  • Maintaining vehicles, trailers and generators under EMA control
  • Ensuring all equipment (portable radios and batteries, safety clothing and equipment are procured, inventoried and maintained. 

Together, the Public Safety area volunteers served McHenry County for 4,832.25 hours in 2018. That is the equivalent one person working around the clock for over 6 months straight! 

 Volunteer Hours  Unrealized Savings


Additional Information

For more information about volunteering with the County Sherriff's Office, please visit:

For more information about volunteering with the EMA, please visit: