Press Release

May 15, 2011


State Public Health Director Honors Illinois Heroes for Response in Emergency Situations

Awards given for heroic actions during
Emergency Medical Services Week: May 15-21  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold today honored seven people and organizations from across the state for their heroic acts of courage as part of the Department’s 24th Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards. Included in the awards is a Clark County paramedic who is being posthumously awarded in recognition of his exemplary performance while on duty. To recognize the heroic efforts of emergency responders and every day citizens, Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed May 15 – 21, 2011 as Emergency Medical Services Week in Illinois.

“The men and women being honored today are true heroes who have acted selflessly to help people in need under harrowing circumstances. 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 the Illinois Department of Public Health (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 66 EMS resource hospitals and 64 trauma centers, 19,018 first responders, 22,688 basic emergency medical technicians (EMTs), 989 intermediate EMTs, and 13,769 paramedic EMTs. There are also 4,478 emergency communications registered nurses and 2,671 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:

  • Richard Poorman - West Union (Clark County)

On October 9, 2010, Richard Poorman, a paramedic from Clark County, was tragically killed in the line of duty. Poorman was in the back of an ambulance attending to his patient when the ambulance was hit by a truck. He did not survive the accident. Richard Poorman was very active in the community and served on both paid and volunteer ambulance services. He was also an instructor and mentor to many EMT students and fellow employees. He will be sorely missed.

  • Brenda McCallister – Atlanta (McLean County)

On July 8, 2010, while at the Atlanta Ballpark, Brenda McCallister noticed that a 6-year-old boy was hit in the chest with a baseball bat. McCallister immediately recognized that the child was in cardiopulmonary arrest and began CPR. This type of cardiopulmonary arrest from blunt trauma to the chest has a survival rate of only three percent in cases when CPR is delayed. Brenda McCallister’s quick actions led to saving the boy’s life.

  • Officer Jennifer Marcellis, Sergeant Anthony Mineo, and Officer Brandon Oliver - Glendale Heights (DuPage County)

On January 27, 2011, Officer Jennifer Marcellis, Sergeant Anthony Mineo, and Officer Brandon Oliver responded to a call for a man down. Upon arriving at the scene, they found a man in his forties unresponsive. The man was in cardiopulmonary arrest. The three responders took immediate action and began CPR until the paramedics arrived. The man not only lived but was found to have no neurological damage after being found unresponsive. The outstanding teamwork displayed by the three police officers was attributed to helping save this man’s life.

  • Fred Lux – Wheaton (DuPage County) and Renea Wojnowski - LaGrange Park (Cook County)

On March 8, 2011, Fred Lux, a personal trainer working at Cardinal Fitness, noticed a man had collapsed. Fred went over to assist the collapsed man and quickly called for an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). At the same time, someone else called 9-1-1. Renea Wojnowski also came to the aid of the collapsed man. She could not find a pulse, so she immediately began CPR. Once the AED had arrived, Lux placed the AED pads on the collapsed man. Wojnowski stopped CPR to allow the AED to analyze the rhythm, a shock was advised. Lux then pushed the button to deliver the shock. Wojnowski felt for a pulse, feeling one she did not resume CPR. The paramedics arrived and moved the patient into the ambulance where he then became aware of his surroundings and responded to questions. After a short stay in the hospital, the patient was released. The quick actions of Fred Lux and Renea Wojnowski undoubtedly saved the man’s life.

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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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