More than a dozen individuals and organizations, including some from central Illinois, are receiving state recognition for acts of courage, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office announced on Wednesday.





SPRINGFIELD -- More than a dozen individuals and organizations, including some from central Illinois, are receiving state recognition for acts of courage, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office announced on Wednesday.

People from Springfield, Astoria and El Paso, as well as the Mount Pulaski Fire Protection District and the Lincoln Fire Department, are among the recipients of the Illinois Department of Public Health's 20th Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards.

The award-winners have been notified and will be getting certificates in the mail, said Public Health spokeswoman Kimberly Parker.

Firefighters, police, paramedics and others throughout the state send their nominations for the awards to the Department of Public Health.

Here is a list of this year's recipients and a description of their acts of courage, as provided by the Department of Public Health:

_ William Heffernan and James Heffernan, both of Springfield. The brothers helped a choking 81-year-old woman in a restaurant on Dec. 17, 2006.

William performed the Heimlich maneuver several times and was unsuccessful in dislodging the food. The woman fainted from lack of oxygen. When the brothers could not feel her pulse, James began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. James was starting a third round of compressions when the woman opened her eyes. Local firefighters arrived and administered oxygen, and paramedics took her to a hospital, from which she was later released.

_ Melissa Taylor Eskridge of El Paso. With help from bystanders, she started CPR on a man who was in full cardiac arrest on May 3, 2006, while her mother called 911. She and her mother had encountered the man's vehicle as they were driving. 

_ Cecil Herring of Astoria. Herring's neighbors called 911 after noticing that an unoccupied cabin was on fire on Oct. 5, 2006.

Herring knew the owners of the home next to the cabin were asleep inside, and he tried to alert them of the fire. By the time they responded, the siding on their home was melting and the structure was on the verge of 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 Herring had not alerted them of the fire.

_ Mount Pulaski Fire Protection District and Lincoln Fire Department. The agencies responded to a call at a corn silo where a man had fallen in and was trapped in corn on July 13, 2006.

He continued to sink in the corn all the way up to his chin as rescue personnel attempted to get him out. They eventually secured a harness around the man and drained corn from the silo. Rescue workers pulled 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.

_ Anthony Bruno of Naperville.

A Jeep drove off a ramp on Oct. 10, 2006, and rolled onto the street below, trapping the driver and a passenger.  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. He 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 of DuQuoin.

Scholebo rescued an elderly woman on March 2, 2007, 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 of Lockport and Robert L. Nichols of Wilmington.

Bears fans Domina and Nichols were tailgating on Jan. 21, 2007, after a Bears victory when they heard screams and discovered that two men had fallen and broken through the ice on Lake Michigan. There were no ladders for them to exit the lake.

Domina 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 of the lake to keep from falling in and bystanders helped steady them as 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.

_ Officer Tom Nowotarski, Antioch Police Department.

While on routine patrol, Nowotarski responded to an "Assist Rescue" call on April 8, 2007. Upon his arrival, he was directed upstairs to an elderly female, who was experiencing chest pain. While speaking with her, she collapsed in cardiac arrest.  Nowotarski quickly applied his automated external defibrillator and successfully defibrillated her back into a life-sustaining heart rhythm. The woman was transported to the hospital and was later discharged.

_Laura Bock of Alton, a registered nurse, Greg Bock of Alton, an emergency medical technician, and Karen Cronin of Godfrey.

A 77-year-old woman choked on food at a restaurant on June 17, 2006. When patrons heard screaming from across the restaurant, Laura Bock, her husband, Greg, and another patron, Karen Cronin, rushed to help. Greg Bock performed the Heimlich maneuver, but was unsuccessful in dislodging the food. The woman collapsed to the floor, and Laura Bock and 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. 

In a news release, Blagojevich and Dr. Eric Whitaker, the director of the Department of Public Health, congratulated the award recipients.

"Emergency workers put their lives on the line everyday and deserve our recognition," Blagojevich 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."

Whitaker added: "Many of the awards stem from selfless acts of courage. 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."