Tuesday, May 24


Professional emergency responders and citizen heroes honored during Emergency Medical Services Week

Send a link to a friend

[MAY 24, 2005]  SPRINGFIELD -- As part of the Illinois Department of Public Health's 18th annual Emergency Medical Services Awards, 25 citizens and emergency responders from around the state received recognition last week for their heroic acts of courage. Gov. Rod Blagojevich proclaimed May 15-21 Emergency Medical Services Week as an opportunity to highlight the heroic acts of some of Illinois' citizens as well as our everyday heroes who work in the emergency response and medical fields.

"These individuals are honored for their courage, quick responses and unselfish attitudes in an effort to save lives while possibly putting their own at risk," Gov. Blagojevich said. "I encourage all citizens to recognize the lifesaving work that the men and women of emergency medical services teams provide to the communities of the state as well as our everyday citizens who took action."

Nominations for the awards come to the Department of Public Health from police, firefighters, paramedics and others from throughout the state.

"Some of these honorees are faced with danger every day in their line of work as a firefighter, police officer or emergency responder, but these individuals went the extra mile while in the line of duty and deserve to be commended for their actions," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. "Others are Illinois residents who saw someone in need and courageously stepped in to help a fellow citizen avoid serious injury or even death -- a true definition of a hero."

The recipients, some of whom are emergency response professionals and others who are civilian heroes, will receive certificates, signed by the governor and Whitaker. The honorees include:

Cook County

Guy Goberville, Chicago Fire Department -- While at a Chicago hospital on Feb. 28, 2004, Goberville, a paramedic, heard screaming coming from the emergency room. He saw a female patient, who had been previously restrained, out of her restraints. The patient was holding her aunt in a headlock with a knife to her throat. Goberville was able to get behind the patient without being noticed. He got the knife away from the woman and contained her until security arrived shortly thereafter. Goberville suffered minor abrasions and scratches as a result of the incident.

Donna J. Kraay, private citizen, Schaumburg -- On the morning of June 5, 2004, Kraay was traveling with her husband when they discovered a traffic accident on Interstate 90 westbound. The car had rolled three times prior to coming to rest on its side on the median. The young driver was trapped in the vehicle. Mrs. Kraay, a registered nurse, crawled partially inside the car to provide aid and comfort to the frightened victim. She continued to care for the driver until the ambulance crew arrived and extricated the victim from the car.

Roberta Shanahan, Chicago Fire Department; Jorge Lara, Chicago Fire Department -- Paramedics Shanahan and Lara responded to a Chicago Transit Authority train station for an unconscious patient on Jan. 16, 2004. A bystander told them the patient seemed to have fainted and was now lying on the train tracks. A CTA employee alerted the paramedics that a train was coming but could not reach the CTA dispatch center because his radio was not working. Shanahan and Lara used their radios to request power be shut down in both directions of the train tracks. However, they could see a train approaching, and it was clear the power shutdown response would take too long and the patient would be hit by the train. Without regard for their own personal safety, the paramedics climbed down onto the tracks and lifted the patient up onto the platform just seconds before the approaching train passed the station.

Kevin Mangerich, Chicago Police Department; Michael Jolliff-Blake, Chicago Police Department; Joseph Roman, Chicago Police Department
Gregory Klimaszewski, Chicago Police Department -- On May 28, 2004, while on patrol, four police officers observed smoke coming from the basement of an apartment building. They heard a woman scream for help. An iron fence surrounding the back of the building made entry difficult. The officers noticed a woman standing in the doorway of one of the apartments, but she was locked in by the padlocked iron gate. A nearby resident provided the officers with a sledgehammer to break the lock and rescue the woman. Despite a smoke-filled building, the officers went back into the apartment to check for more victims and cleared the rest of the three-story apartment building. There were no injuries in the incident.

Effingham County

Matthew T. Bozdech, private citizen, Effingham -- On April 17, 2004, two semitrailer rigs were involved in a crash on Interstate 70 westbound. Both semitrailers and one tractor ignited and burst into flames. Bozdech was driving by and stopped to help. He pulled the driver from the burning tractor. The tractor and semitrailer were completely destroyed by the fire.

Fulton County

Kenny R. Martin, Fulton County Emergency Medical Association; Richard A. Springer, Fulton County Emergency Medical Association -- After arriving on the scene of a single-vehicle rollover accident on June 10, 2004, Springer, a paramedic, and Martin, an EMT, heard a victim, who was trapped in an overturned vehicle in a creek, calling her sister's name. Springer and Martin instantly went into the creek, which was 10 to 30 feet below the roadway and had swelled considerably from recent heavy rains. Martin began the extrication process of the victim, and Springer began the search for the sister she was calling out to. After several minutes of searching the creek, Martin and Springer realized the victim was delirious and her sister was never involved in the accident. They freed the victim and began treatment.

Jackson County

Graham Dewsbury, private citizen, Carbondale; Nick Buening, private citizen, Carbondale -- On Sept. 27, 2004, Dewsbury and Buening were at home when they heard a loud crash. The two Southern Illinois University students went outside and saw that there had been a single-vehicle accident. The driver had lost control of the vehicle and hit an embankment. The passenger was lying on the pavement bleeding from a laceration to his forearm. The students called 911 and did their best to control the bleeding until paramedics arrived.

Madison County

Gregory Walker, Alton Fire Department -- On March 12, 2004, a 64-year-old woman was attending a funeral when she collapsed. Walker, an off-duty Alton firefighter, immediately started CPR and continued the lifesaving procedure until paramedics arrived. The patient was hospitalized and in intensive care for six days.

[to top of second column in this article]

Saline County

Phil Edmondson, Sturgis, Ky., fire chief, CPR trainer for Southern Illinois employees -- Edmondson is being recognized not only for many heroic acts like the one described below, but also for his extensive work as an educator, training southern Illinois workers how to perform CPR.

While Edmondson was on duty at the Sturgis Fire Department in Kentucky on March 12, 2004, a frantic mother came to the firehouse holding her 21-month-old daughter, who appeared lifeless and was not breathing. Edmondson started performing CPR while another officer called an ambulance. After some tense moments for the officers, the little girl took two breaths but stopped breathing again. Edmondson did not give up and restarted CPR. Eventually the girl started to move and breathe on her own. She was transferred to a local hospital and kept overnight for observation.

Robert Wiman, EMT, Black Beauty Coal, Harrisburg -- Wiman had just returned home on June 15, 2004, and was sitting at his kitchen table. As he was talking on the phone, a girl from across the street came running up onto his front porch, screaming for help. She said that a small child had fallen into the swimming pool next door and was not breathing. Wiman told her to call 911 and ran to the home, where a mother had pulled her 6-year-old daughter from the pool. Wiman began CPR and the girl coughed up water, but Wiman still could not find a pulse and the girl was not breathing on her own. Wiman continued CPR, the girl coughed again and began to cry. The paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and transported the girl to the hospital for observation.

Sangamon County

Lt. Col. Craig S. Allen, Springfield; Laurie Allen, Springfield -- On July 6, 2004, Lt. Col. Craig Allen and his wife, Laurie, were traveling in Wyoming on a family vacation when they came upon a fatal accident. The driver of an SUV tried to pass a truck on a two-lane road and collided head-on with a small motor home pulling a trailer. The driver of the motor home was alive, secured in his seat belt but pinned in the vehicle. The impact of the crash had killed the passenger and forced her under the dash and partly across the driver, pinning him to the door. The propane tank on the motor home was leaking, and the gas tank was ruptured, causing fuel and oil to flow under the compartment where the driver was pinned. A passing truck driver located a pry bar in his truck, and Lt. Col. Allen began working to free the driver. Laurie Allen, a nurse, treated the driver of the SUV for shock. Rescuers arrived and had to pry the door open without creating sparks, because of leaking propane from the motor home. It took almost an hour to safely remove the passenger from the motor home.

Derek Guernsey, Sangamon County Sheriff's Department -- Deputy Guernsey and another officer were responding to a disturbance call in Jerome on July 20, 2004. The house was on fire upon their arrival. Guernsey went into the smoke-filled house, noticed an arm sticking out and dragged a female from the residence. The victim said her mother was still inside. Guernsey was able to locate the mother lying on top of the stairs and carried her from the residence. Both women were transported to area hospitals, where the mother later died from her injuries.

Harold Bly, private citizen, Curran -- On March 17, 2005, Bly, 72, of Curran was told by a tow truck driver that a woman and a baby were in a pickup truck that was stuck on a set of railroad tracks. He noticed a train was coming and that the mother was attempting to remove the baby from the car seat but did not realize that the train was approaching. Bly got the woman from the truck and removed the baby from the car seat. He was able to pull them to safety just as the train hit the truck.

Robert Orr, assistant chief, security, Secretary of State Police; Ron Watkins, security officer; Allen Yee, Secretary of State Police employee -- At approximately 2 p.m. on Nov. 24, 2004, a loud noise was heard in the Howlett Building at the Capitol Complex when a 6-foot-by-60-foot section of the roof collapsed. Heavy dust and running water covered the room, as well as ceiling debris and destroyed office equipment. Orr, Watkins and Yee responded and began search and rescue operations. Victims were moved to a nearby room for medical assistance. Once emergency crews arrived, fire personnel evacuated the building.

Schuyler County

Matthew Hendricks, private citizen, Littleton -- Hendricks, 17, was getting ready for school on March 23, 2004, when he called 911 from his rural home outside of Littleton. He was unable to get his mother and grandparents to wake up and he was having trouble breathing. Rescue personnel arrived and were able to get Matthew, his mother and grandparents out of the house. The furnace had malfunctioned and filled the house with carbon monoxide. The family was taken to the hospital and later released.

Stephenson County

William A. Kearney, Illinois State Police -- On Aug. 7, 2004, Trooper Kearney was sitting in his squad car issuing a warning to a speeding violator when a severe traffic accident occurred about 100 feet from him on U.S. 20 in Stephenson County. He called for assistance and rushed to the motorcyclist. The individual's leg had been partially severed and was bleeding heavily. Kearney applied gauze and direct pressure to the wound in an attempt to stop the bleeding. He then applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding until the EMTs arrived. Kearney was recognized for his efforts and received an award from an emergency response helicopter crew for saving the life of the driver.

[News release from the governor's office]

< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor