May 20, 1996
STATE HONORS INDIVIDUALS FOR HEROIC ACTS
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Eleven individuals were honored today by the state of Illinois for acts of courage at the Illinois Department of Public Health's ninth annual Emergency Medical Services Awards ceremony.
"It is comforting to know there are people who will, often without regard for their own safety, come to the aid of someone in need," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director. "We owe these people our heartfelt thanks."
The ceremony was held in the Michael J. Howlett Hall of Flags as part of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week, May 19-25, which was designated by Gov. Jim Edgar to honor emergency medical personnel for their commitment to protecting the lives of others. Dr. Lumpkin presented the awards on behalf of Gov. Edgar and the Department.
"The men and women who have chosen a career in emergency medical services know their lives and the lives of others may be on the line whenever the alarm sounds," Dr. Lumpkin said. "We are grateful for their dedication, courage and compassion."
A similar ceremony will be held Thursday, May 23, in the James R. Thompson Center, Chicago, to honor 21 heroes from northern Illinois.
Nominations for the awards were solicited from across the state.
Downstate EMS Week Awards
Cassandra "Cassy" Ahlgren -- private citizen, Kewanee
On September 23, 1995, 12-year-old Cassy Ahlgren was checking the family's mailbox when she heard a faint voice calling for help. She was unsure where the voice was coming from, but she told her mother about it. Mrs. Ahlgren could not hear the voice, but mother and daughter started to search. Approximately half a mile away, they found Duane Heise, who had caught his right arm in a power take-off shaft on his tractor. It took rescue workers nearly an hour to free him. Heise was transported to Kewanee Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries and released.
Timothy Armstrong -- private citizen, Lincoln
On November 9, 1995, Timothy Armstrong, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Transportation, was traveling east on I-270 when he observed 91-year-old Marie Waffensmith driving toward him in the wrong lanes. He attempted to signal to her that she was going in the wrong direction, but to no avail. He turned his car around, chased after the woman and was able to get ahead of her car. He pulled off to the side of the road, ran onto the highway and flagged down Waffensmith as she approached a long bridge. He then got in Waffensmith's car and drove it off the roadway to safety.
Elinor Benne -- private citizen, Peoria
On the afternoon of January 23, 1996, 18-year-old Joe Bush and his brother John, 11, arrived home from school. A short time later, John started to choke on a jawbreaker. Realizing that his brother was choking, Joe called 911 and spoke to dispatcher Elinor Benne. Benne calmed Joe and talked him through the Heimlich maneuver. On the second or third try, Joe was able to dislodge the jawbreaker. By the time the paramedics arrived, John was out of danger and breathing on his own.
Kevin Breitbarth -- Peoria County deputy sheriff
Kenneth Mullen -- Illinois State Police, District 8 (Metamora)
On the afternoon of June 28, 1995, the raft in which Carma and Brandon Pauli were riding capsized in the rain-swollen waters of Kickapoo Creek west of Peoria. When rescuers arrived, the two were clinging to a small branch about 500 feet north of the Farmington Road bridge. Rescuers tied catch lines on both sides of the bridge and Brandon Pauli managed to hold onto one of them. Carma Pauli caught the other catch line with her feet but was swept downstream by the swift current. Kevin Breitbarth and Kenneth Mullen entered the water and were able to pull the woman to safety. The victims were transported to St. Francis Hospital where they were treated for hypothermia and exhaustion.
Clark Harnsberger -- private citizen, St. Joseph
On August 26, 1995, Clark Harnsberger, 11, was on his paper route when he noticed Norma Miller's screen door was locked. He left her paper on the doorstep, but the next morning, it was still there. Harnsberger became concerned. He contacted a neighbor and went home and told his mother. A call to 911 sent emergency personnel to Miller's home. Miller, who had suffered a stroke and was unable to move, was transported to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.
Robert L. Hunter -- private citizen, Springfield
On November 30, 1995, Robert L. Hunter, a crossing guard, was helping children to cross North Grand Avenue West after they left Addams Elementary School. A speeding west-bound auto veered toward the sidewalk. Hunter pulled a child from the path of the vehicle. It was determined that the driver of the vehicle was suffering from low blood sugar.
Mike Luebke -- private citizen, Bloomington
Steve Skidmore -- private citizen, Bloomington
On the afternoon of July 25, 1995, Steve Skidmore was near the swimming pool in the Village Green Apartments in Bloomington. He heard someone shouting there was a little girl on the bottom of the pool. Skidmore pulled the girl from the pool and started resuscitation efforts. Mike Luebke ran to the scene and assisted with the CPR. The 4-year-old, whose lips were blue when pulled from the water, started breathing on her own but stopped twice before she was out of danger. When the fire department arrived, the girl was breathing on her own. She was transported to St. Joseph's Medical Center.
Rebecca Senneff -- private citizen, Peoria
On March 18, 1996, 6-year-old Rebecca Senneff was watching television as her 22-month-old brother Paul played in his playpen. Their mother was in the adjoining room cooking dinner. Rebecca noticed Paul was coughing hard and got her mother, who realized Paul was choking. Unable to dislodge an object, Patti Senneff instructed Rebecca to call 911. The young girl told the operator her name and address and explained her brother was choking and her mother was trying to help. The dispatcher then spoke with the mother, who tried the Heimlich maneuver and turning Paul upside down. When these methods did not work, Patti reached in and pulled a toy bottle nipple from Paul's throat. The toddler started breathing normally and it was not necessary to call an ambulance.
Ed Woods -- Illinois State Police, District 10 (Pesotum)
During the early evening of January 27, 1995, Trooper Ed Woods was investigating a single-car accident on I-57 near Rantoul. The temperature was hovering around the freezing point and the roadway was slick and icy. As Woods was completing his report, a southbound car slid off the roadway and struck a guard rail in the median, rupturing the gas tank. The car continued through the median, crossed the northbound lanes, struck a bridge railing and burst into flames. Two occupants of the car escaped from the burning vehicle. Woods ran to the vehicle and observed a male occupant in the back seat. He grabbed the man and pulled him to safety. The man sustained only a bump on the head. All three occupants were examined by ambulance personnel and released.
of Public Health
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