State Public Health Director Honors Illinois Heroes for Response in Emergency Situations
Awards given during Emergency Medical Services Week:
May 16-22 for heroic actions
SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – As part of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) 23rd Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards, Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Illinois Department of Public Health Director, today honored ten people and organizations from across the state for their heroic acts of courage. Included in the awards, is a quick-thinking five-year-old boy from Antioch whose swift actions helped save his mother’s life. To recognize the heroic efforts of emergency responders and every day citizens, Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed May 16 – 22 Emergency Medical Services Week in Illinois.
“The men and women being honored today are true heroes. They have acted selflessly to help people in need under harrowing circumstances and these awards are a way of saying thank you for their heroic efforts,” said Dr. Arnold. “Some of the honorees are emergency workers who put their lives on the line everyday, while others are Illinois residents who have acted with courage to help a fellow citizen avoid serious injury or even death. Both of these categories constitute the definition of a true hero.”
Firefighters, police officers, paramedics and others throughout the state send their nominations to IDPH annually for consideration. The nominations received 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 64 EMS resource hospitals and 64 trauma centers, 18,440 first responders, 22,347 basic emergency medical technicians (EMTs), 1,068 intermediate EMTs, 13,246 paramedic EMTs. There are also 4,282 emergency communications registered nurses and 2,441 trauma nurse specialists selflessly providing 24-hour service to the people of Illinois.
This year’s recipients include individuals and crews who showed courage in the following emergency situations:
- Hunter Johnson – Antioch (Lake County)
On April 22, 2009, 5-year-old Hunter Johnson found his mother unconscious in their home. Hunter did not panic, instead he called 9-1-1, which he learned to do at an Antioch Park District program called Camp Crayon. Before officers arrived, Hunter put the family’s 110 pound dog away. Upon their arrival, Hunter was able to show the officers his father’s phone number and informed them that his brother and sister were away at school. He then showed the police a neighbor’s home where he is allowed to stay. Hunter’s mother was very grateful that her son took control of this very scary situation.
- Alexandra Burba and Daniel Burba – Verona (Grundy County)
On May 16, 2009, 13-year-old Alexandra Burba discovered her mother, Theresa Ritter, unresponsive in their home. Alexandra’s 10-year-old brother Daniel Burba, immediately called a neighbor who instructed Alexandra and Daniel to call 9-1-1. While waiting for EMS to arrive, Alexandra and Daniel placed their mother on her side to prevent choking. By displaying courage and outstanding teamwork, their combined efforts helped to save their mother’s life.
- Officer William Webster – Itasca (DuPage County)
On May 25, 2009, off-duty Officer William Webster observed a motor vehicle crash in which the vehicle was engulfed in flames. Officer Webster rushed to the vehicle and observed passengers still in the front seat. Without protective gear or regard for his own safety, Officer Webster entered the burning vehicle twice to remove both the driver and passenger. Officer Webster then extinguished the passengers’ burning clothes and began CPR. Despite his heroic actions, both victims unfortunately succumbed to their injuries. Officer Webster’s outstanding act of bravery shows his commitment of duty and honor to public service.
- Alexis Flamburis - Palos Park (Cook County)
On December 19, 2009, 14-year-old Alexis Flamburis noticed her 10-year-old sister, who was eating chicken, suddenly slumped over with a panicked look on her face. Alexis, who was taught the Heimlich maneuver by her father, Michael Flamburis, jumped into action. Alexis picked her sister up and yelled to her mom for help. Alexis then gave her sister two to three pumps to her stomach which released the obstruction. Her little sister gave her a big hug and said, “You saved my life”.
- Loves Park Police Department (Winnebago County)
On December 25, 2010, Loves Park Police Officers Greg Kindred and Terry Hayes found an 83-year-old male unconscious and not breathing. The victim’s daughter was performing CPR. The two officers immediately relieved the daughter and started CPR. Using an automated external defibrillator (AED) from their squad car, the elderly gentleman was revived. This is not the only time officers from the Loves Park Police Department have saved a life with an AED. The Loves Park Police Department is commended for their commitment in the training of officers to assist in medical emergencies.
- Captain John DeHaan - Willow Springs (DuPage County)
On December 28, 2009, Fireman, Captain John DeHaan, was on his way home from the firehouse when he noticed a woman standing on the edge of a bridge holding onto a sign. When the Captain stopped his car and got out, the woman jumped into the frigid water. He immediately called 9-1-1. Unable to swim himself, Captain John DeHaan found rope and made his way to the water’s edge by crawling under a barbed wire fence and climbing over tires. Holding onto a wall, Captain DeHaan threw the rope to the victim and pulled her in by hanging onto her arm with one hand and the wall with the other until rescuers helped pull her from the water. Were it not for the actions of Captain DeHaan, the woman would have succumbed to the frigid water.
- Cameron Harper – Frankfort (Will County)
On February 6, 2010, while at a Wisconsin motel, 12-year-old Cameron Harper and his family noticed a commotion by the side of the pool. An unconscious 5-year-old boy had been pulled from the water. Cameron, along with others, started CPR. Cameron applied chest compressions to the boy’s chest and helped save the boy from a near drowning. Cameron credits his ability to help in this situation to the two CPR courses he took at Mokena Fire District and St. Mary’s School in Mokena.
- David Kosicek and Albert Ryba – Argonne (DuPage County)
On February 22, 2010, David Kosicek and Albert Ryba were eating lunch at work when they noticed a fellow employee choking on food. Without hesitation, Mr. Kosicek ran over and performed the Heimlich maneuver while Mr. Ryba called 9-1-1. Their quick thinking saved the employees life. This wasn’t the first time Mr. Kosicek used his skills to save a life. About nine years ago, he successfully preformed the Heimlich maneuver on an elderly individual in a McDonald’s restaurant.
- Seaman Reginald Edwards and Petty Officers Chris Summers and Kevin Ray –Wilmette (Cook County)
On February 21, 2010, at 1 a.m., Seaman Reginald Edwards heard a woman outside screaming outside Coast Guard Wilmette Harbor Station. Seaman Edwards woke up other sailors and had them call 9-1-1 before running outside to investigate. Petty Officers Chris Summers and Kevin Ray rushed to help. Wilmette Harbor was 35 degrees when they discovered a woman had fallen in the water. Edwards was instructed to run back to retrieve blankets. Petty Officer Summers lay down on the ground and reached over the docks edge to grab the woman’s hand, which was about 5-feet below the dock. Petty Officer Ray held on to Summers’ legs preventing him from falling in. Summers pulled the woman up high enough for Ray to reach her other arm. Together, they lifted her to safety where she was taken to a nearby hospital. Without the quick actions of these three men, this young woman would have succumbed to the icy cold water.
- Myron Shorkawes, Guadalupe Flores, Francisco Perez, Jose Orozco, Miguel Ramirez - Des Plaines (Cook County)
On March 8, 2010, Guadalupe Flores heard a loud explosion and ran out of his home in Des Plaines to find his neighbor’s home engulfed in flames. Guadalupe, along with fellow neighbors Myron Schorkawes, Fanciso Perez, Jose Orozco and Miguel Ramires, attempted to save their neighbor. They could see the man standing inside after one of the neighbors broke a window. Flores yelled at the man to come out several times. Both Flores and Schorkawes ran around to the back door. Schorkawes along with the help of Flores reached in and pulled the man out of the flames. It was a group effort of neighbors who helped save this man’s life.