2001 EMS Award Winners

Gary L. Ambuehl, private citizen, Springfield

In the evening of December 18, 2000, a car lost control on an icy street and rolled over, coming to rest on its side. One of the occupants was pinned inside and complaining of back pains. During the rollover, the other occupant’s leg went through and became stuck in the front windshield of the car. Although the windshield had extensive cracks, it remained firmly in place, preventing the victim from pulling his leg out. Gary Ambuehl was at the scene in his truck, which was equipped with a snowplow. Sangamon County sheriff’s deputies on the scene asked Ambuehl to position his plow against the vehicle to keep it from falling on the occupant’s leg. Members of the Springfield Fire Department then arrived and were able to extricate both victims.

Justin Archer, private citizen, Shipman
Greg Cottingham, private citizen, Shipman
Tim Mills, private citizen, Shipman

On Sunday, April 30, 2000, two young people were seriously injured in a four-wheel drive ATV (all terrain vehicle) crash that left them unconscious and tangled in a barbed wire fence. Justin Archer, Greg Cottingham and Tim Mills, also on ATVs, came upon the crash. After calling for emergency personnel, the three turned their attention to the victims. Mills cut loose one of the victims, who had barbed wire around her neck and was not breathing. She fell out of the fence, gasping for breath. Emergency vehicles arrived shortly and the two were transported to a Jerseyville hospital and then air lifted to St. Louis University’s trauma center.

Kelly Benhart, private citizen, Itasca
Robert DeLoach, private citizen, Itasca
Paul Wyse, Wood Dale Police Department

During a seventh- and eighth-grade basketball game on Sunday, February 25, 2001, a 14-year-old boy collapsed and stopped breathing. The boy’s father, Robert DeLoach, and 17-year-old Kelly Benhart, a lifeguard certified in CPR, started resuscitation efforts. Wood Dale police officer Paul Wyse arrived and assisted with the resuscitation efforts. When paramedics arrived, they used a defibrillator to restore the boy’s sinus rhythm. The boy was transported to a local hospital and then airlifted to Loyola.

Nichol Bleichner, McLean County Sheriff’s Office

On August 25, 2000, dispatcher Nichol Bleichner answered a 911 call regarding an imminent birth. After notifying emergency medical services personnel, Bleichner reconnected with the caller and was informed that the baby’s head was visible. Using the emergency medical dispatch childbirth information, she began to assist the caller and the soon-to-be mother. When it became apparent that the child was going to arrive before EMS personnel got to the home, Bleichner, who was also pregnant, calmly talked the caller through the birth. She then verified the condition of the newborn and the mother.

Richard Bossert, private citizen, Kankakee
Jeff Piwnicki, private citizen, Carbondale

Early in the morning on Friday, November 3, 2000, Jeff Piwnicki and a friend were on their way home when they saw a vehicle leave the roadway, hit a concrete bridge and caught fire. Another bystander, Richard Bossert, and Piwnicki went to the vehicle and found the driver unconscious. Forcing their way into the vehicle, the two pulled the driver to safety. Immediately afterward, the fire intensified and engulfed the vehicle. The victim was transported to the hospital and released two days later.

Paul Brault, St. Clair Shopping Mall Security
David Kitley, St. Clair Shopping Mall Security
Michael Wilson, Fairview Heights Police Department

On March 3, 2001, Paul Brault responded to a motor vehicle crash near the south entrance to St. Clair Square Mall. He found a 23-year-old male in cardiac arrest. Fellow security officer David Kitley ran into the mall and retrieved a defibrillator and oxygen. Brault shocked the victim and, along with Fairview Heights police officer Michael Wilson, started CPR. The victim was then transported to a Belleville hospital. He was discharged a week later.

Douglas E. Carlson, private citizen, Lombard
Richard A. Sikora, private citizen, Lisle
William G. Smith, Illinois State Police, District 15

On the morning of November 23, 2000, a automobile crash on Interstate 355 resulted in a fire. When Illinois State Police trooper William G. Smith responded to the scene, he was approached by two men – Douglas Carlson and Richard Sikora – who told him that there were people trapped in the car. The trooper broke the driver’s side window and, with help from Carlson and Sikora, pulled the individuals from the car. Both were on fire from the knees down. Sikora grabbed the fire extinguisher from the police car and dowsed the flames. Both victims were transported to a nearby hospital.

John B. Cisney, private citizen, Tuscola

As John Cisney was entering the southbound lanes of Interstate 57 on March 6, 2001, he noticed a semi-tractor truck pulling on to the highway in an improper manner. He then saw that the driver appeared to be slumped over the wheel. Cisney passed the truck and called 911. At about this time, the truck left the roadway, struck a guardrail, overturned and caught fire. Cisney stopped his car and, as he approached the truck, noticed that the driver was trapped inside. He kicked out the front windshield and pulled the driver from the cab.

Katina Crump, Chicago Police Department
Quentin Hanks, Chicago Police Department
Marvin Randolph, Chicago Police Department
Robert Williams, Chicago Police Department

On patrol the morning of October 9, 2000, Katina Crump, Quentin Hanks, Marvin Randolph and Robert Williams observed smoke and flames coming from an apartment building on South Wabash Avenue. Calling the fire department before entering the building, the four officers found most of the residents sleeping. They banged on doors and then helped escort the residents – including seven children and a blind man – from the building. No one was injured.

Beverly W. Dixon, Illinois State Police, District 9

On October 9, 2000, Sgt. Beverly Dixon, his wife and their two children were dining at a restaurant when a woman started to scream for assistance. Dixon approached the table and found an older woman who was obviously in distress and appeared to be choking. Dixon performed the Heimlich maneuver, administering two sharp blows to the woman’s back that dislodged the food in her airway. Dixon remained with the victim until she was breathing normally.

Theodore E. Gall, private citizen, Sycamore
Jennifer K. Hermes, private citizen, Dixon
Falvio Perez, private citizen, Aurora
George J. Voulgaris, private citizen, DeKalb

During the evening of November 9, 2000, a car caught fire on Interstate 88. Prior to the arrival of emergency services, Jennifer Hermes saw the fire and stopped, finding a person still inside the burning car. She ran to Theodore Gall, who had also pulled over, to enlist his help. While Hermes reported the emergency and then maneuvered her car to shine its headlights on the scene, Gall approached the car, but found the door would not open. He grabbed the window, which was down slightly, and pulled it out, breaking the glass and cutting his hands. George J. Voulgaris and Falvio Perez then arrived and helped Gall pull the occupant from the car.

Mark George, Chicago Police Department
Anthony Trapalis, Chicago Police Department

On March 14, 2000, Mark George and Anthony Trapalis were on patrol when they were notified of a fire on North St. Louis Avenue. A 24-year-old pregnant woman was trapped inside on the second floor. The officers tried to enter the building only to be driven back by thick black smoke. The woman then threatened to jump. Officer Trapalis noticed a discarded mattress and box springs and the two policemen positioned them below the woman. After arranging bystanders to shield the woman from the bricks and concrete, the officers spread their arms to help break the woman’s fall. They then told her to jump onto the mattress. She was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

Rachael Haas, private citizen, Chicago
Carole Jawor, private citizen, Elmhurst

At approximately 7:45 p.m. on February 19, a 27-year-old male jumped from the Michigan Avenue bridge, intending to commit suicide. He changed his mind, but was unable to get out of the water. Carol Jawor of Elmhurst called 911, and then she and Rachael Haas of Chicago went down to the river to try and help the man. They were unable to get him out of the river but they held on to him until police arrived. The police, too, were unable to pull the man from the river. Firefighters arrived and were able to move the man onto the shore and then to the hospital.

William Hartz, Chicago Police Department
Denis Lopez, Chicago Police Department
Rafael Magallon, Chicago Police Department

In the morning on Sunday, February 1, 2001, William Hartz, Denis Lopez and Rafael Magallon were on patrol when they saw smoke coming from a building on North Avenue. Lopez and Magallon entered the building and escorted 13 residents to safety. They were assisted by William Hartz. Lopez, Magallon and three of the residents were treated for smoke inhalation.

James M. Hiher, Carroll County Deputy Sheriff’s Office

On the evening of March 9, 2000, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a woman reporting that her husband had been missing since early afternoon. He had left earlier that day to go to a wooded area and cut trees. The woman had gone to the area and found her husband’s all terrain vehicle (ATV) but had seen no sign of her husband. Deputy James Hiher and his K-9 dog, Bojar, were sent to the area to search. They found the woman’s husband severely injured and hypothermic. He was transported to a hospital and, subsequently, made a full recovery.

Mike G. Jenkins, private citizen, Harvard
Tracy D. Johnson, private citizen, Capron

On June 12, 11-year-old David and 13-year-old Daniel Zerby were wading in a rain-swollen creek when David lost his footing and was swept downstream. He was able to grab a branch to keep himself above the water, but his brother was unable to pull him from the stream. Daniel Zerby Sr. attempted to rescue David but he, too, was swept into the creek and was unable to extricate himself. Mike G. Jenkins and Tracy D. Johnson were moving furniture out of nearby residence due to the rising water when they heard the cries for help. The two secured a canoe, paddled into the creek and were able to rescue the three stranded members of the Zerby family.

Dennis Karner, South Chicago Heights Police Department
Jesse Kozinski, South Chicago Heights Police Department

On October 16, 2000, Dennis Karner and Jesse Kozinski were on patrol when they noticed a fire in a three-story apartment building on South Commercial Street. The officers entered the building and aroused more than a dozen residents. They carried at least one resident to safety. One person died in the blaze. Kozinski, a resident and two firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

Michelle Kelly, Kane County Sheriff’s Office

On July 12, 2000, Michelle Kelly was leaving the lunchroom when she noticed another officer clutching his throat. His face had already turned blue. Kelly used abdominal thrusts to clear the officer’s airway.

Leonard Kirkpatrick, Coles County Sheriff’s Department

On the evening of December 1, 2000, Leonard Kirkpatrick heard a loud banging on one of the jail dorm doors. Upon investigating, he found a 23-year-old white male inmate had hanged himself with a telephone cord. Kirkpatrick got the inmate down and called for assistance and an ambulance. He then started CPR with assistance from two other officers. Kirkpatrick was able to get a pulse and the inmate was breathing on his own before the ambulance arrived.

Gregory Klups, Chicago Police Department
Felix Tomalis, Chicago Police Department

While on routine patrol January 26, 2001, Gregory Klups and Felix Tomalis noticed smoke coming from a home on South Fairfield Avenue. The officers kicked open the locked door and found two children sleeping in a bedroom. After the children were safely outside, the home’s other residents were escorted out of the burning structure. The home had no working smoke alarms.

Gabriel Leon, Chicago Fire Department
Terrance Sullivan, Chicago Fire Department

On June 23, 2000, Chicago Fire Department paramedics Gabriel Leon and Terrance Sullivan were returning from an ambulance call. They noticed a man sitting on the edge of a bridge railing. When they stopped, the man told them he was going to jump. While Sullivan distracted the man, Leon was able to slip behind him and grab him before he could jump. Both men then wrestled him to safety. The man was transported to a hospital for evaluation.

David Poll, private citizen, Chicago

After his flight was cancelled on December 20, 2000, David Poll wandered around O’Hare Airport waiting for the next flight to New York. The 19-year-old, who had just withdrawn from college because of a learning disability, paused in front of one the many defibrillators installed throughout the airport. Later, as he waited to board his flight, he noticed a man who appeared to be snoring – a little too loudly in Poll’s opinion. He went to check on the person. An American Airlines flight attendant who was walking by the gate noticed Poll and others trying to help the man. Starting CPR, the flight attendant called for a defibrillator. Poll remembered the one he’d seen earlier and went to grab it. He also reported the emergency. The flight attendant shocked the man three times before paramedics arrived. Despite all the efforts, though, the man died. Poll slipped away and caught his plane to New York before anyone was able to get his name. It wasn’t until his father saw the story in USA Today that Poll was identified.

Jody Leroy Siar Jr., private citizen, Benld

Early in the morning of November 20, 2000, 13-year-old Jody Siar got up to get a drink of water. He discovered a fire in the kitchen. Quickly waking his parents and two brothers, the family was able to escape the house unharmed. The house was a complete loss.

Jay E. Smith, Illinois State Police, District 19

On February 26, 2000, Illinois State Police trooper Jay Smith responded to a traffic crash on U.S. Route 45. One of the vehicles, which had sustained major damage, had two small children in its back seat. One of the children had only minor injuries but the other one was severely injured and unconscious. The child then stopped breathing and Smith started CPR. The child started breathing, but only briefly. Smith again began CPR and the child began breathing on her own again. An ambulance arrived and the child was stabilized before being airlifted to a hospital.

Mary D. Van Allman, private citizen

On April 22, 2000, a pickup truck traveling on a rural road south of Carlinville was struck by a semi-truck loaded with logs and caught fire. Mary Van Allman approached the burning vehicle and was able to break out the back window of the truck. She then helped the driver escape from the burning vehicle.

Matthew G. Vaughan, Illinois State Police, District 2

On the morning of April 3, 2000, Matthew Vaughan came upon a burning vehicle on an exit ramp of Interstate 355. The vehicle’s engine compartment was engulfed in flames and the passenger compartment was full of smoke. The driver was asleep with his seatbelt fastened. Vaughan was able to release the belt and pull the driver to safety.

John L. Waters, Chicago Fire Department

On May 1, 2000, Capt. John Waters was at a house fire on West 46th Street when he noticed a woman holding a baby and standing near an attic window. He tried unsuccessfully to convince her not to drop the 1-year-old child. When she did, Capt. Waters caught the child, who was unhurt. Firefighters raised a ladder and rescued the mother and a second woman from the attic.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
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