Honoring Heroes Who Help Save Lives

Annual EMS Hero Awards

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is celebrating National EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Week, May 19-25, 2019, and EMS for Children Day, May 22, 2019, by recognizing the important contributions and dedication of paramedics, police, firefighters, and other first responders who provide day-to-day lifesaving services. 
“Emergency workers are willing to put their lives on the line every day to help protect the health and safety of their communities,” said IDPH Acting Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “I want to thank these brave men and women and recognize their courage, time, and dedication.  Please join me in recognizing our emergency workers during National EMS Week.”
The recipients of this year’s Exemplary EMS Instructor Award are Chicago Police Officers Brian Berkowitz and Ralph Cruz.  The officers developed, spearheaded, and conducted Law Enforcement Medical And Rescue Training (LEMART).  The training focuses on educating and training officers on where, when, and how to perform critical life-saving care for trauma wounds.  Because of the popularity of the training, Officers Berkowitz and Cruz collaborated with other instructors to train more than 9,000 police officers and more than 2,000 Chicago Fire Department employees, as well as officers at O’Hare International and Midway airports.  The LEMART program has become a model for other training programs throughout the U.S.  Officers Berkowitz and Cruz also came up with the idea of LEMART kits, which contain first aid equipment such as tourniquets, CPR masks, chest seal dressings, trauma scissors, and bandages.  
The recipients of this year’s Exemplary EMS Response Awards are the Waukegan Fire Department and 10 of its staff:  Battalion Chiefs Eric Lyons and Brett Stickels; Lieutenants Brad Buntrock and John Switalski; Firefighter Wayne Deloncher; and Firefighter/paramedics Tom Classen, Michael Gallager, Chris Kohnke, Nathan Skewes, and Adam Slade.  These individuals responded to a car crash in 2018 in which a vehicle hit a guardrail and pinned the driver inside.  Waukegan Fire Department personnel stabilized the vehicle, which was leaking fluids, and used rescue tools for extrication.  While detouring traffic around the scene, they set up a Helicopter Landing Zone in order to quickly transport the victim to a trauma center.  The decisions and actions of these individuals allowed for a quick critical transport to the closest Level I Trauma center for this patient.  This response shows exemplary team work during a response and quick action in order to save a victim from a potentially life-threatening situation.
This year’s National EMS Week theme, “BEYOND THE CALL,” underscores the emergency situations and pressures EMS personnel work under and their strength to do so.
In Illinois, there are 62 EMS resource hospitals, 67 trauma centers, 15,456 emergency medical responders, 19,862 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), 534 advance/intermediate EMTs, 15,761 paramedics, 4,948 emergency communications registered nurses, 2,735 trauma nurse specialists, 505 pre-hospital registered nurses, and 3,116 emergency medical dispatchers providing 24-hour service to the people of Illinois.  Approximately two-thirds of all EMS providers are volunteers.