SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today recognized an Evanston Police officer and a volunteer firefighter from the community of Stockton in Jo Daviess County for their quick actions while off duty that saved the lives of fellow Illinois residents. The two were chosen by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) for the department’s annual Hero Awards presented during Emergency Medical Services Week, proclaimed by Governor Quinn from May 19 – 25.
“I salute all of Illinois’ first responders for the daily sacrifices they make in order to keep our families and neighbors safe,” Governor Quinn said. “Sean O’Brien and Shaun Bennett remind us that even off duty, we can count on the courage and dedication of our EMS personnel to save our loved ones.”
Police Officer Sean O’Brien of the Evanston Police Department is being recognized for saving the life of a seven-year-old boy from the Des Plaines River on March 5, 2013. O’Brien, who was off-duty, witnessed the boy run from a busy intersection toward the river. Knowing the boy was in danger, O’Brien got out of his car and followed him. When he approached the riverbank, O’Brien saw the boy’s orange Chicago Bears cap floating in the water. O’Brien then jumped in and pulled the boy to safety. He carried the boy back to his SUV where he warmed him while waiting for an ambulance. This wasn’t the first life-saving effort for O’Brien - in 2009, he saved a fellow police officer from a burning car after an automobile accident.
Shaun Bennett joined the Stockton Volunteer Fire Department in August 2012. Part of his training as a part-time volunteer firefighter included attending the American Heart Association Basic Life Support Healthcare Provider CPR/AED class on February 18, 2013. Just two days later on February 20, Bennett witnessed a co-worker collapse. Thanks to his recent life support training, Bennett immediately recognized that his co-worker was in cardiopulmonary arrest, so he called 911 and began CPR. Bennett’s quick action is credited for saving his co-worker’s life.
“Thousands of emergency workers in Illinois, like Sean O’Brien, put their lives on the line every day, while others are Illinois residents who volunteer, like Shaun Bennett, and have acted with courage to help fellow citizens avoid serious injury or even death,” IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “We would like to honor all of these heroes and say thank you for their courage, time and dedication.”
Every year, firefighters, police officers, paramedics and others throughout the state send their nominations to IDPH for the annual Emergency Medical Service Hero Award. The nominations received represent just a few of the many heroic acts that people dedicated to saving lives perform on a daily basis.
There are 66 EMS resource hospitals, 67 trauma centers, 18,953 first responders, 37,198 emergency medical technicians (EMTs - 22,398 basic EMTs, 844 intermediate EMTs, 13,956 paramedic EMTs), 4,649 emergency communications registered nurses, 2,794 trauma nurse specialists, 367 pre-hospital registered nurses and 2,533 emergency medical dispatchers selflessly providing 24-hour service to the people of Illinois.