Press Release

May 21, 2009


State public health director honors Illinois heroes for response in emergency situations

 Awards given for heroic actions during Emergency Medical Services Week: May 20th-26th  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director, today honored 7 people and organizations from across the state for their heroic acts of courage as part of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) 22nd Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards. Included in the awards, is a young firefighter who is being posthumously awarded as an honorary EMT (emergency medical technician) in special recognition of his exemplary performance while on duty. To recognize the heroic efforts of emergency responders and every day citizens, Governor Quinn proclaimed May 20th – 26th Emergency Medical Services Week in Illinois.

“The men and women being honored today have acted selflessly to help people in need and 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 and 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, paramedics and others throughout the state send their nominations to 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 64 EMS resource hospitals, 61 trauma centers, 17,781 first responders, 20,769 basic EMTs, 1,122 intermediate EMTs, and 12,603 paramedic EMTs. There are also 4,163 emergency communications nurses and 2,424 trauma nurse specialists selflessly providing 24-hour service to the people of Illinois.

The recipients this year include individuals and crews who showed courage in the following emergency situations:

  • William Miller - Blue Mound (Macon County)

On October 13, 2008 William Miller, 24 year old fire fighter for Blue Mound Fire Department was killed in a training accident. The department was conducting a training exercise when a tanker loaded with water overturned.

  • Katie Dvorak - Western Springs (Cook County)
    Luke Dvorak - Western Springs (Cook County)

On August 15, 2008 Luke Dvorak, 7, noticed a 5 year old boy, who Luke knew couldn’t swim, had gone in the water and hadn’t surfaced. Luke searched underwater and spotted him at the bottom of the deep end of the pool. Luke called for help from his sister, Katie, 11. Katie dove in and brought the boy to the surface where a group of boys pulled him out. The boy was unconscious and turning blue-gray. An adult resuscitated the boy and he was transported to the hospital where he was released shortly after the incident.

  • Peter Holm – Springfield (Sangamon County)

On June 7, 2008 Peter Holm watched as a car with his friends, a married couple aged 81 and 91 and another friend, 83, were swept off the road into a water filled ditch. The car began floating with the current in 8 -10 feet of water. Peter swam out to the car and one by one carried the occupants to the outer bank. A rescue squad from Moweaqua had been called and when arriving on the scene they were able to pull everyone to safety.

  • Southern View Police Officer Jay Lovelace, EMT-Intermediate (Sangamon County)

On July 3, 2008, Southern View Police officer Jay Lovelace was the first to respond to a 911 call at a local beauty shop where a customer was in cardiac arrest. Officer Lovelace used his training as an Emergency Medical Technician – Intermediate and immediately assessed the situation and began life-saving CPR.

  • Fulton County Deputy Sheriffs’ Anthony Ewalt and Michael O’Brien (Fulton County)

On September 2, 2008 Fulton County Deputy Sheriff Anthony Ewalt and Deputy Sheriff Michael O’Brien responded to a single vehicle rollover accident. The vehicle had left the roadway, rolled down an embankment and caught fire. The driver was thrown into the backseat floorboard when the vehicle rolled over. The deputies located the unconscious driver and freed her from the burning car, moving her to safety where medical personnel were able to provide medical aid. The car was completely engulfed in flames moments after pulling the victim to safety.

  • Columbia Emergency Medical Service team - Michael Mueller, EMT-Paramedic, Highland, Heather Middleton, EMT-Basic, Columbia, Shirelle Parks, EMT-Basic, Columbia (Monroe County)

On November 15, 2008 Columbia Emergency Medical Service team members Michael Mueller, EMT-Paramedic, Heather Middleton, EMT-Basic and Shirelle Parks, EMT-Basic responded to a call of a newborn infant estimated to be in cardiac arrest for over thirty minutes having been in a cold water situation. The team remained calm and professional while reviving the newborn. The infant was transported to the hospital and later discharged. 

  • Anthony Izzo – Capron (Boone County)
    Ronald Welzen – Capron (Boone County)

On March 15, 2009 Ronald Welzen was visiting Anthony Izzo at his home when they smelled something burning. They went down the road to investigate and came upon a one car accident. The vehicle had left the road, hit a fence and a tree and started on fire. Ronald and Anthony heard the cries of the crash victim trapped inside the burning vehicle. The victim had extensive injuries and was unable to free herself from the wreckage. They took a fence post and broke out the back window and pulled the victim to safety. The car was completely engulfed in flames when the Capron Rescue Squad District arrived at the scene.

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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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