Press Release

May 28, 2008


State public health director honors Illinois heroes for response in emergency situations

EMT shot while trying to save a shooting victim  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director, today honored 16 people and organizations, including two EMTs (emergency medical technicians) who were shot at while transporting a victim to the hospital, for their heroic acts of courage as part of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) 21st Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards.

“Emergency workers put their lives on the line everyday and deserve our recognition,” said Dr. Arnold. “That’s what these awards are all about – saying thank you to men and women who selflessly respond to help people who need it.”

Firefighters, police, paramedics and others throughout the state send their nominations to IDPH annually for consideration. The recipients this year include individuals and crews who showed courage in the following emergency situations:

  • Patrick Bierman – East St. Louis
    Lydia Cravens – East St. Louis
    May 19, 2008 – Patrick Bierman and Lydia Cravens responded to a call of a double shooting in Washington Park. While transporting one of the victims to the hospital, a car pulled along side the ambulance and a suspect fired at least seven shots into the ambulance. Bierman was driving at the time and was hit by two bullets, one in the arm and the other in the chest. Bierman managed to safely pull to the side of the road where Cravens was able to quickly assess Bierman’s wounds, apply pressure and drive the ambulance to the hospital.
  • Jonathan Kross – Geneva
    April 13, 2008 – Jonathan Kross was driving on a local toll road when he noticed a vehicle in a ditch. He pulled over and saw the driver collapse face first into water in the ditch. Kross was able to pull the driver out of the water, called 911 and started CPR.

  • Harlem Rescue Ambulance Crew – Jeff Brandenburg, Mike Powell, Robert Gonia
    Harlem Firefighter Crew – Rico Vanderheyden, Mike Morrison, Matt Bush, Aaron Miller
    February 17, 2008 – The Harlem Rescue Ambulance and Firefighter crews responded in a severe ice storm to a woman in labor. Due to the steepness of the driveway and the ice, the crews were not able to get a vehicle to the house. After attempting to get the patient down the driveway, including the use of a toboggan, they delivered the baby at the house.
  • Brian Jirus – South Wilmington
    Monty Serena – South Wilmington
    January 8, 2008 – While answering calls due to flooding, firefighters Brian Jirus and Monty Serena responded to smoke in the basement of a house. When they arrived they found an elderly female in the front yard without a pulse and not breathing. They initiated CPR and used an AED before the ambulance arrived. The quick action by these firefighters, who are not EMT trained, saved this patient’s life.
  • Burl Boyd – Browning
    William Tournear – Quincy
    January 6, 2008 – Burl Boyd, an EMT-Paramedic, and William Tournear, an EMT-Basic, responded to a report of a woman in labor en route to the hospital. After finding the woman in a pickup truck on highway 57, they moved her to the ambulance where a baby boy was delivered 12 minutes later.
  • Anthony Slater – Carthage
    July 6, 2007 – Anthony Slater, an EMT-Paramedic, responded as back-up with his partner to a report of a man not breathing. Upon arrival, Slater quickly identified that ongoing resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and found the man’s airway was obstructed by food. Slater used airway equipment and forceps to dislodge the food allowing the man to breathe.

  • Kevin Swanson – Geneva
    May 16, 2007 – Kevin Swanson and his daughter were driving through a residential area when they noticed a man laying in his front yard with a lawn mower partially on top of him. Swanson, an EMT-Paramedic with the Geneva Fire Department, quickly went to work administering CPR until an ambulance arrived and assumed care.

These are just a few of the many heroic acts people dedicated to saving lives do on a regular basis. Members of emergency medical services ( EMS) teams spend thousands of hours in specialized training and continuing education to enhance their lifesaving skills. Approximately two-thirds of all EMS providers are volunteers.

In Illinois there are 63 EMS resource hospitals, 64 trauma centers, 16,940 first responders, 21,331 basic EMTs, 1,180 intermediate EMTs, and 12,131 paramedic EMTs.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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