Press Release

May 23, 2007

Gov. 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 today honored 14 people and organizations from around the state for their heroic acts of courage as part of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s 20th Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards. Gov. Blagojevich proclaimed May 20th – 26th Emergency Medical Services Week.

“Emergency workers put their lives on the line everyday and deserve our recognition,” the Governor said. “That’s what these awards are all about – saying thank you to men and women who selflessly respond to help people who need it.”

“Many of the awards stem from selfless acts of courage,” said Dr. Whitaker, state public health director. “These residents or emergency personnel 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.”

Firefighters, police, paramedics and others throughout the state send their nominations to IDPH annually for consideration. The recipients this year include individuals who showed courage in the following emergency situations:

  • Anthony Bruno, Naperville

On October 10, 2006, a Jeep drove off a ramp and rolled onto the street below trapping the driver and a passenger. Anthony Bruno was driving down the street at the same time and saw the Jeep falling from the ramp above. The Jeep landed upside down in front of Bruno’s truck. Bruno rushed to the Jeep and used his hunting knife to free the men from their seatbelts as the vehicle started to catch fire. He then dragged the two men away from the vehicle as it became engulfed in flames.

  • Jason Scholebo, DuQuoin

On March 2, 2007, Jason Scholebo rescued an elderly woman after witnessing the woman’s car run off the road and into the overflow waters of Rend Lake, coming to rest tightly among the trees. He immediately pulled over and waded into the cold water, not knowing how deep it was, as the water quickly surrounded the vehicle. He broke through the trees and was able to get to the back seat of the vehicle and pulled the woman over the front seat and out of the vehicle.

  • John Domina, Lockport
    Robert L. Nichols, Wilmington

On January 21, 2007, Bears fans John Domina and Bob Nichols were tailgating after the Bears win over the Saints, when they heard screams. They ran over to a crowd of people and saw two men who had fallen over the edge and broke through the ice on Lake Michigan. There were no ladders for the two to exit the lake. Domino and Nichols grabbed a table out of the back of their truck, unfolded the legs and lowered the table down to the first victim who grabbed the lower set of table legs. Domina and Nichols struggled on the edge to keep from falling in and bystanders help to steady them while they pulled the victim up. The second victim had been in the frigid water for about ten minutes and was struggling. He was ultimately able to pull himself onto the table and the group pulled him up and out of the water.

  • Melissa Taylor Eskridge, El Paso

On May 3, 2006, Melissa Taylor Eskridge was driving her mother home after having surgery when they came upon a vehicle at the roadside. A man in the car was in full cardiac arrest. With the help of bystanders, she started CPR while her mother called 911.

  • William Heffernan, Springfield
    James Heffernan, Springfield

On December 17, 2006, brothers William and James Heffernan came to the aid of a choking 81 year old woman at a local restaurant. William performed the Heimlich maneuver several times and was unsuccessful in dislodging the food. The woman fainted from lack of oxygen and when the brothers could not feel her pulse, James began performing CPR. James was starting a third round of compressions when the woman opened her eyes. Local firefighters arrived and administered oxygen and paramedics took her on to the hospital and she was later released.

  • Cecil Herring, Astoria

On October 5, 2006, neighbors noticed an unoccupied cabin was on fire and called 911 to report the fire. One of the neighbors, Cecil Herring, knew the owners of the home next to the cabin were asleep inside. He attempted to alert them of the fire and by the time the couple responded, the siding on their home was melting and the structure was about to start burning. Neighbors fought the blaze with garden hoses until the fire department arrived. Neighbors and the couple concluded that they would have been overcome by smoke and flames if Mr. Herring had not awakened and alerted them of the fire.

  • Officer Tom Nowotarski, Antioch Police Department

On April 8, 2007, while on routine patrol, Officer Tom Nowotarski of the Antioch Police Department responded to an “Assist Rescue” call. Upon his arrival, he was directed upstairs to an elderly female, who was experiencing chest pain. While speaking with the patient, she collapsed in cardiac arrest. Officer Nowotarski quickly applied his AED and successfully defibrillated her back into a life sustaining heart rhythm. The woman was transported to the hospital where she recovered from the event and was later discharged. Officer Nowotarski was able to immediately respond to the situation because he was prepared with his AED upon entering the residence.

  • Laura Bock, RN, Alton
    Greg Bock, EMT - Paramedic, Alton
    Karen Cronin, Godfrey

On June 17, 2006, a 77 year old woman choked on some food at a restaurant. When patrons heard screaming from across the restaurant, RN Laura Bock, her husband and paramedic Greg Bock and another patron, Karen Cronin rushed to her aid. Greg Bock performed the Heimlich maneuver, but was unsuccessful in dislodging the food. The woman collapsed to the floor, and Laura Bock and Karen Cronin began CPR. The woman had no pulse and had turned blue. Laura performed chest compressions while Karen administered rescue breathing and they were able to resuscitate the woman.

  • Mount Pulaski Fire Protection District, Mount Pulaski
    Lincoln Fire Department, Lincoln

On July 13, 2006, Mount Pulaski Fire Protection District and the Lincoln Fire Department responded to a call at a corn silo where a man had fallen in and was trapped in corn. He continued to sink in the corn all the way up to his chin, while the rescue personnel attempted to get him out. They were eventually able to secure a harness around the man and drain corn from the silo. After several hours, rescue workers were able to pull him to safety through a door on the side of the silo. Also responding to the call were fire and police departments from Lincoln, Decatur, Chestnut, Kenney, Macon and Logan Counties.

The text of the Governor’s proclamation follows:

WHEREAS, emergency medical services (EMS) embody the true concept of teamwork by recognizing the interdependent relationship among trauma centers, EMS system hospitals, ambulance providers, emergency and trauma physicians, emergency nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) – basic, coal miner, intermediate and paramedic – field nurses, emergency communication nurses, trauma nurse specialists, emergency dispatchers and first responders who are dedicated to saving lives; and

WHEREAS, in Illinois there are 62 EMS resource hospitals, 64 trauma centers, 12,130 first responders, 21,512 basic EMTs, 1,265 intermediate EMTs, and 11,780 paramedic EMTs, selflessly providing 24-hour service to the people of Illinois; and

WHEREAS, this year’s national theme, “EMS – Extraordinary People, Extraordinary Service,” underscores the immediate nature of the situations to which EMS personnel must respond; and

WHEREAS, access to quality emergency care dramatically improves the survival and recovery rate of those who experience sudden illness or injury; and

WHEREAS, approximately two-thirds of all emergency medical services providers are volunteers; and

WHEREAS, the members of emergency medical services teams, whether career or volunteer, engage in thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their lifesaving skills:

THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim May 20 – 26, 2007 as EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES WEEK in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to recognize the dedication and lifesaving work that the men and women of emergency medical services teams provide to the communities of this state.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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