Northwestern Medicine

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital Honors Local First Responders at Annual A Cut Above Award Ceremony

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital October 24, 2014

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital today recognized the exemplary efforts of local first responders at its annual A Cut Above award ceremony held at the hospital’s health education center.  Hospital officials were joined by members of fire and police departments from Countryside, Grayslake, Greater Round Lake, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Great Lakes Naval Station, North Chicago, and Waukegan to honor first responders for their quick response and efforts that saved lives. 

LAKE FOREST, IL – “It is an honor for us to host this annual event to commend our firefighters and paramedics and recognize the team efforts that saved lives,” said Thomas J. McAfee, president of Lake Forest Hospital. “The first responders we honor today represent the very best of our community.” 

The first responders honored include:

Libertyville Fire Department: Firefighter/Paramedic Andrew Yarc; Firefighter/Paramedic Josh Roberts; Firefighter/Paramedic Patrick Schultz
Having just completed a course on Combat Application Tourniquets, Yarc, Roberts and Schultz didn’t expect that their very next EMS call would test their newest skill.  Nevertheless, on May 19, 2014, they arrived at a local industrial facility for a man who lacerated his arm on a mill.  The pulseless extremity with a 6” laceration continued to bleed despite a makeshift tourniquet applied by the patient’s coworkers.  Yarc, Roberts and Schultz rapidly applied a Combat Application Tourniquet that controlled the bleeding and the patient was transported to the hospital. 

Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District: Firefighter/Paramedic Erich Castillo; Firefighter/Paramedic Todd Lucassen; Firefighter/Paramedic Paul Willen; Firefighter/Paramedic Lonnie Langel; Firefighter/Paramedic Neal Fischer; Firefighter/EMT Eric Wang

On May 7, 2014, Round Lake Crew One responded to a lift assist call where they found an overweight man lying on the floor, on the heat register, for more than 8 hours.  The first crew quickly began cleaning the patient as a second crew arrived for additional assistance.  Lucassen and Castillo showered the patient, while Willen, Langel, Fischer and Wang decontaminated the patient’s living space and laundered the patient’s clothing. These caring gestures by the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District crew remind us how simple and sincere acts can enhance the dignity of our patients. 
Grayslake Fire Protection District: LT David Torkilsen; LT Jason Brooks; Firefighter / Paramedic James Howell; Firefighter / Paramedic Gerry O’Sullivan; Firefighter / Paramedic Jose Sanchez-Vega; Firefighter / Paramedic Eric Foerster

High quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation with defibrillation saved a man’s life on July 19, 2014.  The Grayslake crew arrived on scene and found a 74-year-old unresponsive male, whose wife was performing CPR.  The paramedics quickly defibrillated the patient; after two shocks the patient had a return of spontaneous circulation and was then rapidly transported to the hospital.  The patient later was discharged from the hospital with a good long-term prognosis.  Positive outcomes like this remind us how our care for cardiac patients has advanced.  By providing the appropriate medical care for this patient, the Grayslake crew truly saved and improved the quality of this man’s life. 

North Chicago Fire Department: Commander Joshua Rickabaugh; Firefighter / Paramedic Joseph Knesley; Firefighter / Paramedic Kyle Martinelli; Firefighter / Paramedic Tim Kluchka; Firefighter / Paramedic Sterling Ricketts

On May 17, 2014, the North Chicago Fire Department responded to a call for a 78-year-old female with uncontrollable bleeding due to a dog bite wound to the neck. On arrival to the scene, the unruly dog was being restrained by a bystander who informed the crew that he was losing his grip.  The dog became loose and ran toward the North Chicago crew.  Kluchka pinned the dog to the ground by grabbing the dog’s neck and rear legs to prevent injury to others.  In the meantime, Ricketts performed a rapid trauma assessment on the patient.  Rickabaugh, Knesley, and Martinelli then moved the patient into the ambulance to ensure safety, while Kuchka successfully secured the dog while he avoided being bitten.  Direct pressure to the patient’s bite wound with multiple trauma dressings controlled the bleeding and the patient was safely transported to the hospital. 

Waukegan Fire Department: Captain Tom Christensen

Captain Tom Christensen is being honored for his commitment and loyalty to his profession, department and community.  Throughout 27 years of service, Christensen has fulfilled many roles within the Waukegan community.  He has served as an Airport Rescue Firefighter, a certified public diver for the Dive Rescue Operations, Director of the Hazardous Devices Technician program, Director of Personal Protective Gear program, Co-Director of Department Organized Community Emergency Response Team and Fire Investigator.  Among his accolades, he has been honored as the 2012 National Firefighter of the Year and is a recipient of the Medal of Valor in 2011.  His dedication to public service is truly “A Cut Above” and we are honored to recognize him today. 

Countryside Fire Protection District:  Firefighter / Paramedic Dan Lainio; Firefighter / Paramedic Mark Skala

On the morning of July 12, 2014, Skala and Lainio were training on the “pit crew” CPR method.  They later found themselves responding to a call for a 92-year-old female with chest pain.  Upon arrival the patient went into ventricular fibrillation, so the crew defibrillated the patient, helping her regain spontaneous circulation and consciousness. 

Naval Base Great Lakes Fire Department: Assistant Chief Gregory DeVries; Captain Chad Miller; Firefighter Shane Ratcliff; Firefighter Mike Vetta; Firefighter Dave Chizek; Firefighter Mark Dodge; Firefighter Matthew Webb

On February 23, 2014 the Great Lakes crew was faced with the challenge of managing the care for an unresponsive 2-year-old.  They found the child in ventricular fibrillation and administered advanced life support.  Numerous medications were administered with changes in the patient’s rhythm before they reached the hospital.  Caring for pediatric patients is a time when emotions run high and expertise and professionalism is most needed.  Their peers recognized the strong teamwork and outstanding care displayed by these men.  A rare case like this truly requires efficient use of one’s training and the ability to maintain composure during an emotionally charged setting.

Lake Bluff Fire Department: Firefighter / Paramedic Matt Kluchka; Firefighter / Paramedic Russell Kluchka; Lake Bluff Police Department: Police Officer Jim Reynolds; Lake Forest Fire Department: Firefighter / Paramedic Nick Savel; Firefighter / Paramedic Joe Stanonik

On January 21, 2014, Firefighter / Paramedic Savel, Stanonik, Kluchka, and Kluchka and Police Officer Jim Reynolds provided the appropriate life-saving procedures to help regain the patient’s pulse.  Upon their arrival to the emergency department, the patient began to regain consciousness.  Their rapid response and quality medical interventions resulted in a positive outcome for this patient, who is now a cardiac survivor able to share his “A Cut Above” experience with us. 
The annual A Cut Above awards are presented in memory of Anthony M. Gallo, Jr. of the Schaumburg Fire Department. Firefighter Gallo was fatally injured in the line of duty on December 16, 1977.

Learn more about Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.

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