Press Release

May 17, 2005

Professional emergency responders and citizen
heroes honored during Emergency Medical Services Week

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker are hailing some of Illinois’ unsung heroes. Twenty-five citizens and emergency responders from around the state received recognition for their heroic acts of courage as part of IDPH’s 18th Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards. Gov. Blagojevich proclaimed May 15th - 21st “Emergency Medical Services Week,” as an opportunity to highlight the heroic acts of some of Illinois’ citizens as well as our everyday heroes who work in the emergency response and medical fields.

“These individuals are honored for their courage, quick responses and unselfish attitudes in an effort to save lives while possibly putting their own at risk,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “I encourage all citizens to recognize the lifesaving work that the men and women of emergency medical services teams provide to the communities of the state as well as our everyday citizens who took action.” Nominations for the awards come to IDPH from police, firefighters, paramedics and others from throughout the state. “Some of these honorees are faced with danger everyday in their line of work as a firefighter, police officer or emergency responder but these individuals went the extra mile while in the line of duty and deserve to be commended for their actions,” said Dr. Whitaker, state public health director. “Others are Illinois residents who saw someone in need and courageously stepped in to help a fellow citizen avoid serious injury or even death, a true definition of a hero.”

The recipients, some of whom are emergency response professionals and others who are civilian heroes, will receive certificates, signed by the Governor and Dr. Whitaker. The winners include:

Cook County

Guy Goberville, Chicago Fire Department

While at a Chicago hospital on February 28, 2004, paramedic Guy Goberville heard screaming coming from the Emergency Room. Goberville saw a female patient, who had been previously restrained, out of her restraints. The patient was holding her aunt in a headlock with a knife to her throat. Goberville was able to get behind the patient without being noticed. He got the knife away from the woman and contained her until security arrived shortly thereafter. Goberville suffered minor abrasions and scratches as a result of the incident.

Donna J. Kraay, private citizen, Schaumburg

On the morning of June 5, 2004, Donna Kraay was traveling with her husband when they discovered a traffic accident on I-90 westbound. The car had rolled three times prior to coming to rest on its side on the median. The young driver was trapped in the vehicle. Kraay, a registered nurse, crawled partially inside the car to provide aid and comfort to the frightened victim. She continued to care for the driver until the ambulance crew arrived and extricated the victim from the car.

Roberta Shanahan, Chicago Fire Department
Jorge Lara, Chicago Fire Department

Paramedics Roberta Shanahan and Jorge Lara responded to a Chicago Transit Authority train station for an unconscious patient on January 16, 2004. A bystander told them the patient seemed to have fainted and was now lying on the train tracks. A CTA employee alerted the paramedics that a train was coming but could not reach the CTA dispatch center because his radio was not working. Shanahan and Lara used their radios to request power be shut down in both directions of the train tracks. However, they could see a train approaching and it was clear the power shutdown response would take too long and the patient would be hit by the train. Without regard for their own personal safety, the paramedics climbed down onto the tracks and lifted the patient up onto the platform just seconds before the approaching train passed the station.

Kevin Mangerich, Chicago Police Department
Michael Jolliff-Blake, Chicago Police Department
Joseph Roman, Chicago Police Department
Gregory Klimaszewski, Chicago Police Department

On May 28, 2004, while on patrol, four police officers observed smoke coming from the basement of an apartment building. They heard a woman scream for help. An iron fence surrounding the back of the building made entry difficult. The officers noticed a woman standing in the doorway of one of the apartments but she was locked in by the padlocked iron gate. A nearby resident provided the officers with a sledgehammer to break the lock and rescue the woman. Despite a smoke-filled building, the officers went back into the apartment to check for more victims and cleared the rest of the three-story apartment building. There were no injuries in this incident.

Effingham County

Matthew T. Bozdech, private citizen, Effingham

On April 17, 2004, two truck-tractor semi-trailers were involved in a crash on I-70 westbound. Both semi-trailers and one tractor ignited and burst into flames. Bozdech was driving by and stopped to help. He pulled the driver from the burning tractor. The tractor and semi-trailer were completely destroyed by the fire.

Fulton County

Kenny R. Martin, Fulton County Emergency Medical Association
Richard A. Springer, Fulton County Emergency Medical Association

After arriving on the scene of a single vehicle rollover accident on June 10, 2004, Springer, a paramedic, and Martin, an EMT, heard a victim, who was trapped in an overturned vehicle in a creek, calling her sister’s name. Springer and Martin instantly went into the creek, which was 10 to 30 feet below the roadway and had swelled considerably from recent heavy rains. Martin began the extrication process of the victim and Springer began the search for the sister she was calling out to. After several minutes of searching the creek, Martin and Springer realized the victim was delirious and her sister was never involved in the accident. They freed the victim and began treatment.

Jackson County

Graham Dewsbury, private citizen, Carbondale
Nick Buening, private citizen, Carbondale

On September 27, 2004, SIU students Graham Dewsbury and Nick Buening were at home when they heard a loud crash. They went outside and saw a single-vehicle crash. The driver had lost control of the vehicle and hit an embankment. The passenger was lying on the pavement bleeding from a laceration to his forearm. The students called 911 and did their best to control the bleeding until paramedics arrived.

Madison County

Gregory Walker, Alton Fire Department

On March 12, 2004, a 64-year old woman was attending a funeral when she collapsed. An off-duty Alton firefighter, Gregory Walker, immediately started CPR and continued the life-saving procedure until paramedics arrived. The patient was hospitalized and in intensive care for six days.

Saline County

Phil Edmondson, Sturgis, KY, Fire Chief, CPR trainer for Southern Illinois employees

Edmondson is not only being recognized for many heroic acts like the one described below; but he’s also being acknowledged for his extensive work as an educator, training Southern Illinois workers how to perform CPR.

While Edmondson was on duty at the Sturgis Fire Department in Kentucky on March 12, 2004, a frantic mother came to the firehouse holding her 21-month-old daughter, who appeared lifeless and was not breathing. Edmondson started CPR while another officer called an ambulance. After some tense moments of performing CPR, the little girl took two breaths but stopped breathing again. Edmondson did not give up and restarted CPR, eventually the girl started to move and breathe on her own. She was transferred to a local hospital and kept overnight for observation.

Robert Wiman, EMT, Black Beauty Coal, Harrisburg

Robert Wiman had just returned home on June 15, 2004, and was sitting at his kitchen table. As he was talking on the phone, a girl from across the street came running up onto his front porch screaming for help. She stated a small child had fallen into the swimming pool next door and was not breathing. Wiman told her to call 911 and ran to the 6 year-old girls’ home where her mother was holding her. The mother had pulled the girl from the pool. Robert began CPR and the girl coughed up the water but Wiman still could not find a pulse and the girl was not breathing on her own. Wiman continued CPR, the girl coughed again and began to cry. The paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and transported the girl to the hospital for observation.

Sangamon County

Lieutenant Colonel Craig S. Allen, Springfield
Laurie Allen, Springfield

On July 6, 2004, Lt. Col. Craig Allen and his wife, Laurie, were traveling in Wyoming on family vacation when they came upon a fatal accident. The driver of an SUV tried to pass a truck on a two-lane road and collided head-on with a small motor home pulling a trailer. The driver of the motor home was alive, secured in his seatbelt but pinned in the vehicle. The impact of the crash had killed the passenger and forced her under the dash and partly across the driver, pinning him to the door. The propane tank on the motor home was leaking and the gas tank was ruptured causing fuel and oil to flow under the compartment, where the driver was pinned. A passing truck driver located a pry bar in his truck and Lt. Col. Allen began working to free the driver. Laurie Allen, a nurse, treated the driver of the SUV for shock. Rescuers arrived and had to pry open the door without creating sparks because of leaking propane from the motor home. It took almost an hour to safely remove the passenger from the motor home.

Derek Guernsey, Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department

Sangamon County Sheriff’s Deputy Guernsey and another officer were responding to a disturbance call in Jerome on July 20, 2004. The house was on fire upon their arrival. Deputy Guernsey went into the smoke filled house and noticed an arm sticking out and dragged a female from the residence. The victim said her mother was still inside. Guernsey was able to locate the mother lying on top of the stairs and he carried her from the residence. Both women were transported to area hospitals, where the mother later died from her injuries.

Harold Bly, private citizen, Curran

On March 17, 2005, Harold Bly, 72, of Curran was told by a tow truck driver that a woman and a baby were in a pickup truck that was stuck on a set of railroad tracks. He noticed a train was coming and that the mother was attempting to remove the baby from the car seat and did not realize that a train was approaching. Bly got the woman from the truck and removed the baby from the car seat. He was able to pull them to safety just as the train hit the truck.

Robert Orr, Assistant Chief, Security, Secretary of State Police
Ron Watkins, Security Officer
Allen Yee, Secretary of State Police employee

At approximately 2 p.m. on November 24, 2004, a loud noise was heard in the Howlett Building at the Capitol Complex when a 6- foot by 60 foot section of the roof collapsed. Heavy dust and running water covered the room as well as ceiling debris and destroyed office equipment. Orr, Watkins and Yee responded and began search and rescue operations. Victims were moved to a nearby room for medical assistance. Once emergency crews arrived, fire personnel evacuated the building.

Schuyler County

Matthew Hendricks, private citizen, Littleton

Matthew Hendricks, 17, was getting ready for school on March 23, 2004, when he called 911 from his rural home outside of Littleton. He was unable to get his mother and grandparents to wake up and he was having trouble breathing. Rescue personnel arrived and were able to get Matthew, his mother and grandparents out of the house. The furnace had malfunctioned and filled the house with carbon monoxide. The family was taken to the hospital and later released.

Stephenson County

William A. Kearney, Illinois State Police

On August 7, 2004, Trooper Kearney was sitting in his squad car issuing a warning to a speeding violator when a severe traffic accident occurred about 100 feet from him on U.S. 20 in Stephenson County. He called for assistance and rushed to the motorcyclist. The individual’s leg had been partially severed, and was bleeding heavily. Trooper Kearney applied gauze and direct pressure to the wound in an attempt to stop the bleeding. He applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding until the EMT’s arrived. Trooper Kearney was recognized for his efforts and received an award from an emergency response helicopter crew for saving the life of the driver.


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