Press Release

May 18, 2006

Governor Blagojevich honors Illinois heroes for response in emergency situations

 Awards given for heroic behavior in recognition of Emergency Medical Services Week

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker today awarded 21 people from around the state for their heroic acts of courage as part of IDPH’s 19th Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards. Gov. Blagojevich proclaimed May 14th – 20th Emergency Medical Services Week as an opportunity to highlight the heroic acts performed during an emergency.

“These people quickly and selflessly responded when they saw someone in trouble,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “These police officers, firefighters, paramedics and medical services workers really are heroes for what they do each and everyday and they deserve our thanks and recognition.”

Firefighters, police, paramedics and others throughout the state send their nominations to IDPH for consideration.

“This year’s awards all honor Illinois citizens for their selfless and heroic efforts,” said Dr. Whitaker, state public health director. “These residents 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.”

These heroes will receive certificates, signed by Dr. Whitaker. This year’s recipients include individuals who showed courage in the following emergency situations:

  • John and Lynda Minor, Urbana
    Chris Guest, Urbana
    Tony Onyango, Urbana
    Robert Cox, Urbana

On October 24, 2005, neighbors on a cul-de-sac rushed to the aid of three teenagers trapped in a burning vehicle. After hearing the crash, John Minor ran into the front yard and yelled out to his wife to call 911. After doing so, Lynda Minor ran out of the house to find one of the boys on fire, yelled for him to “stop, drop and roll” and then used an oven mitt to extinguish the flames. Chris Guest, a medical and doctoral student at the University of Illinois, brought wet towels from his home and ran towards the burning van where he found one of the boys on the ground with what appeared to be a broken pelvis and broken leg. Tony Onyango and Robert Cox tried to pull the driver out of the burning van, but he was trapped by his seatbelt. Guest was able to cut the seatbelt with his pocketknife and the driver was pulled to safety, just seconds before the gas tank exploded.

  • William Hart, Girard
    Curtis Nichelson, Girard

On March 29, 2006 William Hart and Curtis Nichelson rescued boater Glenn Brown. Brown lost his footing and fell in near freezing water on an Illinois lake. Brown was hanging on to his boat and crying out for help. Hart heard him, tied a rope around his waster and swam out to help. Nichelson, aided by unidentified individuals who were working in the area, pulled the boat along with Brown and Hart to shore.

  • Mike Tadlock, Mt. Vernon

On May 18, 2005 Mike Tadlock helped avert a major traffic accident on a busy interstate. Tadlock saw a semi swerving very slowly ahead of him on the interstate and attempted to contact the driver of the semi, via radio, and did not receive a response. Tadlock then noticed the semi began to ease toward the shoulder, but continue to weave onto the roadway. He parked his truck and was able to climb onto the fuel tank of the slow moving semi where he discovered the driver unconscious with his foot still on the clutch. At that moment, the driver fell into the passenger seat, his foot came off the clutch, and the semi started to speed up and veer toward the shoulder of the road. While the semi was still in motion, Tadlock pulled himself through the window and stopped the vehicle. He then pulled the driver from the truck and prepared to administer CPR when the driver regained consciousness.

  • Centralia High School Football Team: Travis Arnold, Jarren Baker, Nathan Berry, Marcus Currie, Thomas Erlinger, Tyler McAbee, Travis Patten , Kyle Pender, Marquise Shackelford, Lucas Waters, Darren Whitelow

On April 22, 2006 while performing community service on a Saturday afternoon, members of the Centralia High School football team heard a cry for help. They rushed to the aid of a man who was trapped underneath a pickup truck that had fallen off a hydraulic lift while he was repairing it. The boys lifted the pickup truck off the man and held it until rescue personnel arrived. The doctor who treated the man indicated that if it were not for the quick thinking of the football team, the man would have died within minutes.

  • Joe Smart, Creve Coeur

On December 21, 2005 Joe Smart arrived home to find his neighbors garage engulfed in flames. He banged on the door to the house and when no one answered, he kicked the door down and woke the four occupants up and alerted them to the fire. All escaped unharmed, including the family’s two small dogs. It took nine fire engines, 30 firefighters and approximately 20,000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire.

  • Greg Taylor, Chestnut

On December 18, 2005, after spotting an overturned vehicle off the roadway, Greg Taylor called 911 and went to the aid of the driver who was trapped upside down in the vehicle. While Taylor was instructed by the 911 dispatcher not to move the victim because of a possible neck injury, he realized that the engine had ignited. Since the fire posed a great threat, the dispatchers told him to try and get the victim out. Taylor was able to push the vehicle onto its side and the victim was able to crawl out the window.


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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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