|May 21, 2002
STATE HONORS INDIVIDUALS FOR HEROIC ACTS
SPRINGFIELD Governor George H. Ryan joined the Illinois Department of
Public Health today in honoring 32 individuals for acts of courage as part of
the states 15th Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards.
Honorees received certificates, signed by Gov. George H. Ryan and Illinois
Department of Public Health Director, Dr. John R. Lumpkin, as part of the
Departments observance of Emergency Medical Services Week, May 19-25. The
special week provides an opportunity for communities and organizations to honor
those involved in emergency medical services.
"Every day throughout Illinois and across the nation, citizens reach
out to help others in need," Governor Ryan said. "Emergency medical
personnel are often heard to say it's all a part of the job, but we are still
grateful for their dedication and courage.
"And private citizens who give assistance without hesitation also
deserve our thanks and recognition for their compassion and bravery in the face
Nominations for the awards are solicited by the Department from police,
firefighters, paramedics and others from throughout the state.
"These brave individuals came to the aid of others in crisis, often
jeopardizing their own safety, said Dr. Lumpkin. Their selfless
acts of courage and the compassion they displayed are inspiring.
Below is a list of honorees and brief descriptions of their deeds.
2002 ILLINOIS EMS Award Winners
· Will Rogers, private citizen, Mahomet
On July 28, 2001, a 12-year-old girl was found at the bottom of an indoor pool
at a Champaign motel. The motels general manager, Will Rogers, jumped a
fence, dove into the water and pulled the girl to safety. The girl was not
breathing and she had no pulse. Rogers performed CPR until fire and rescue
crews arrived and took over resuscitation.
· John Schweighart II, Champaign Police Department
On July 21, 2001, Sgt. John Schweighart II and his partner were dispatched to
assist the fire department at a fire in which a mother and her four young
children were trapped in a burning house. Sgt. Schweighart went to the rear of
the house and kicked in a heavy reinforced door after ripping the screen door
away. He found the terrified family inside the home and led them to safety.
· Robert Craven, Chicago Fire Department
On the morning of May 4, 2001, Lt. Robert Craven and his crew responded to a
fire alarm on South State Street in Chicago. While part of his crew went to the
roof and another group entered the structure, Lt. Craven proceeded to the rear
of the building. The first floor door was unlocked and he noticed a strong odor
of an accelerant. He entered the structure through thick, black smoke and high
heat conditions. During his search, he found a 78-year-old man who was
unconscious and pulled him to safety.
· Andrew Cuomo, Chicago Police Department
· Jeffery Felton, Chicago Police Department
· Adam Zelitzky, Chicago Police Department
Upon arriving at a residential fire on Nov. 10, 2001, Sgt. Adam Zelitzky
observed flames coming from the second floor and learned two young children
were trapped inside. Officers Jeffery Felton and Andrew Cuomo, who had been
working traffic control, also arrived on the scene. Due to the intensity of the
heat, the three officers had to crawl through the burning structure. They were
faced with thick smoke, heat and flames, plus water from fire hoses. Officer
Felton located the unconscious children on the floor of a rear bedroom. The
children were transported to a local hospital. Officers Felton and Cuomo were
treated for smoke inhalation at local hospitals and Sgt. Zelitzky was admitted
for smoke inhalation.
· William Davis, Chicago Fire Department
On June 3, 2001, an ambulance from the Chicago Fire Department was dispatched
to a suicide attempt and, upon arrival, found a woman sitting in a car with a
butcher knife to her throat. Firefighter/paramedic William Davis initiated a
conversation with the woman through a partially opened window. After
approximately 15 minutes, the woman lowered the knife from her throat and
placed it on the seat beside her. A short time later, the woman emerged from
the car and hugged Davis. The woman was searched and placed in the ambulance. A
search of her car produced a suicide note and a second knife, which was
concealed within the womans reach.
· Michael Flaherty, Chicago Fire Department
On Sept. 19, 2001, Ambulance 20 of the Chicago Fire Department was dispatched
for an unconscious, non-breathing patient. Field officer Michael Flaherty also
responded, arriving before the ambulance. Upon arrival, the ambulance crew
found Flaherty performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation upon a 3-week-old baby.
The ambulance crew continued treatment and transported the baby to the
hospital. The baby survived.
· John W. Gilligan, private citizen, Chicago
On the morning of Aug. 19, 2001, John Gilligan was waiting for a train at the
Belmont Station in Downers Grove when a woman standing near him fainted and
fell face down onto the tracks. Gilligan jumped off the platform and
unsuccessfully tried to pull her from the path of the oncoming train. The woman
was pinned under the lead car of the train and Gilligan could not free her. The
Downers Grove Fire Department used air bags to lift the car and free the woman,
who was transported to a local hospital.
· Robert Martin, Chicago Fire Department
At approximately 2:20 p.m. on April 29, 2001, the Chicago Fire Department
responded to a fire alarm on South Houston Avenue. Upon arrival, firefighters
learned there were two children on the second floor and two civilians had been
injured trying to rescue them. Lt. Robert Martin entered the bedroom through a
window and began an aggressive search. He was able to locate a 3-year-old girl
who had burns on 20 percent of her body. He picked her up and found his way
back to the window where he handed her to another firefighter. Lt. Martin
resumed his search for the other child but was driven out by the intense heat,
which caused second-degree burns to his ears. When he re-entered the structure,
he was informed the child had been rescued.
· Matthew Nagy, Palatine Fire Department
Matthew Nagy, an off-duty Palatine Fire Department firefighter/paramedic, was
driving home Nov. 9, 2001, on Arlington Heights Road in Buffalo Grove when he
spotted a group of people watching a car sink into a retention pond about 50
feet from the bank. Nagy went into the frigid water and saw a face pressed
against a window. The car sank, and Nagy dove into the water and pulled the
passenger through a window by her coat. The driver had fallen out of the car
before it went into the water.
· Mechie Watson, Chicago Police Department
On Oct. 30, 2001, Officer Mechie Watson responded to an apartment building fire
and saw smoke coming from the 10th floor. The fire department was not on the
scene. Despite heavy black smoke and heat, the officer pounded on every door
alerting tenants to the fire and evacuating many to safety. Officer Watson
suffered smoke inhalation and was treated at a local hospital. It was
determined the fire was caused by a resident smoking in bed.
· Christopher Watson, Illinois State Police, District 15
· Jason Wilson, Illinois State Police, District 15
Troopers Christopher Watson and Jason Wilson were dispatched on May 4, 2001, to
a rollover semi-truck crash on Interstate 94. When they arrived, they observed
the truck on its right side in a ditch. The driver was partially ejected
through the front windshield. Several bystanders were on the scene along with
an off-duty EMT, but they were unable to provide any assistance due to their
concern about the stability of the wreckage. The troopers freed the victim from
the wreckage and began to perform CPR. The Lake Forest Fire Department arrived
and transported the victim to a Lake Forest hospital, from where he was
airlifted to another hospital. The victim survived.
· Chad Byers, private citizen, Canton
· Bryan Taylor, private citizen, Canton
On Jan. 10, 2002, Chad Byers and Bryan Taylor, employees of the Canton Water
Department, were working on a residential meter replacement project and arrived
a half hour earlier than scheduled. The men heard rustling noises in the house,
but no one answered the door. They entered the house and found the resident had
fallen and was going in and out of consciousness. They contacted their
supervisor who called the rescue squad. The rescue squads personnel
stated the diabetic victims blood pressure was so low and his blood sugar
so high that he probably would not have lasted another 30 minutes. He was
transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
· Jim Campbell, Canton Fire Department
· Tony Fahrenbruch, Canton Fire Department
· Scott Roos, Canton Fire Department
A young woman was trapped on the second floor of her Canton home after it
caught fire on May 30, 2001. Canton firefighters Tony Fahrenbruch and Scott
Roos were responsible for knocking down the fire while Lt. Jim Campbell, who
was equipped with a helmet-mounted thermal imaging camera, searched for the
victim. Two rooms were searched before the victim was located in a third room.
After being hospitalized for 10 days, the woman was able to return home.
· Kody West, private citizen, Lewistown
Kody West was playing outside with a group of friends on Oct. 17, 2001, when a
65-year-old neighbor emerged from her home and began walking down the street.
The woman greeted the playing children and then continued walking. Seconds
later, she had a heart attack and collapsed on the street. Kody ran to his
grandmothers house and called 911. Upon returning to the scene, Kody
observed a truck heading toward the woman, whom the driver could not see. Kody
directed the driver to stop. The woman was treated at the scene and transported
to the hospital.
· Kathy Harris, private citizen, Mount Vernon
On May 7, 2001, Kathy Harris, head cook at Lincoln School, came to the aid of a
third-grader who choked on an animal cracker. The girl began coughing, but the
coughing ceased and the girl began to turn blue. Harris performed the Heimlich
maneuver and the little girl coughed up the cookie.
· Geoffrey Ruther, Deerfield Police Department
During a summer league baseball game on June 13, 2001, a 13-year-old boys
heart stopped after he was struck in the chest by a fastball. Two parents, who
were physicians, and the first base coach responded while several parents
called 911. CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation were given with limited
results. A woman flagged down Officer Geoffrey Ruther, who had a defibrillator
in his police car. The boy had no pulse and was not breathing, so Officer
Ruther applied the pads and followed the machines prompt indicating when
to shock. CPR and chest compressions were applied and the boy started to
respond and breathe on his own. The boy recovered.
· Andrew Jones, private citizen, Chestnut
· Matt Wilham, private citizen, Chestnut
Andrew Jones and Matt Wilham were on their way to school on Jan. 17, 2002, when
they came upon a two-car accident about a mile south of Chestnut. A woman
failed to yield at an intersection and her car was broadsided by a Ford Bronco.
Both vehicles rolled into an adjacent farm field. The driver of the Bronco
suffered a broken arm, but was able to get out of the vehicle. However, her
brother was trapped inside the vehicle. Jones and Wilham pulled the boy from
the vehicle before it burst into flames.
· Mike Irby, Decatur Fire Department
On May 23, 2001, the Decatur Fire Department responded to a call regarding two
people who had possibly been electrocuted in a swimming pool. Upon arrival,
Capt. Mike Irby found two people performing CPR on one individual and another
person still in the pool. Not knowing whether the pool had been de-energized,
Capt. Irby and a police officer tried to identify the location of the switch to
turn off electricity to the pool. After shutting all of the electrical panels
they could find, Capt. Irby tested the water for electricity using a pipe pole.
The pole, however, was not long enough to touch the bottom of the pool, where
the individual was located. Despite not knowing whether the water was charged,
Capt. Irby retrieved the individual from the bottom of the pool and started
· Keith Hancock, Montgomery County Sheriffs Office
· Darryl Hymes, Montgomery County Sheriffs Office
· Jeffrey Roach, Montgomery County Sheriffs Office
On Dec. 4, 2001, Montgomery County Sheriffs deputies Keith Hancock,
Darryl Hymes and Jeffrey Roach responded to an attempted suicide call. Upon
arriving at the scene, they met with the mans mother, who explained her
son had cut himself badly with a knife and was bleeding profusely. She also
informed the deputies that her son, who had been drinking alcohol, was in
possession of multiple knives and possibly firearms. The deputies attempted to
contact the injured man, who had barricaded himself inside the residence, with
no success. In order to save the mans life, the deputies decided to force
their way into the residence. Once inside, the deputies discovered the man
waving the knife in an irrational manner. He dropped the knife and charged the
deputies, who were able to subdue the man.
· Ryan Craig, private citizen, Illiopolis
On June 22, 2001, Ryan Craig, 13, and two of his friends were bike riding on a
country road north of Illiopolis when a motorcyclist struck Ryans
14-year-old friend. The driver stopped, looked back and then took off. Ryan
realized what had happened and knew that his friend was badly hurt. He sent his
other friend to get help while he stayed and kept the injured boy calm until
emergency workers arrived. Ryan also wanted to make sure another driver did not
strike his friend. The boy ended up with a badly broken leg, abrasions and
lacerations. He also lost his two front teeth. Crimestoppers reenacted the
scene, but the motorcyclist has yet to be found.
· Brent Moral, private citizen, Springfield
On the morning of Feb. 12, 2002, Laura Moral placed her three children into her
minivan parked in the garage. When the van would not start, Moral put it into
neutral and pushed it from the garage so she could get a jump start. As the van
started rolling down the slight incline toward the street, Moral tried to stop
it, but was run over and pinned beneath it. Her 6-year-old son, Brent, saw what
happened to his mother and ran inside to call 911. Rescue personnel used air
bags to lift the vehicle off Moral before she was transported to the hospital.
· Brittany Crane, private citizen, Wolf Lake
Ten-year-old Brittany Crane, who had sustained a broken leg, twisted ankle,
broken wrist and crushed hand in a car accident, walked 1 ½ miles to get
help for her mother. The accident occurred at about 10 p.m. Dec. 3, 2001, when
a car driven by Brittanys mother, Tammy Crane, veered off the State
Forrest Blacktop Road. The car rolled over and Tammy ended up in the middle of
the road. Brittany was able to get out of her seat belt and walked to the home
of the parents of her mothers boyfriend, ducking off the road every time
a car approached because her mother always told her to never ride with
strangers. Tammy and Brittany were both hospitalized.
· Brad Smith, Herrin Police Department
On Sept. 20, 2001, Officer Brad Smith responded to a 911 call at the home of a
woman who was choking and fighting to breathe. Officer Smith performed the
Heimlich maneuver and eventually dislodged a large vitamin from her windpipe.