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2023 Firefighter Award of Valor FF/EMT Juan Gonzalez.

In the pre-dawn hours of February 21st, crews responded to a fire at 4339 N Richmond.

A 3-story apartment building with heavy smoke showing on all three floors. FF Juan Gonzalez, assigned to Search & Rescue entered the building along with Engine 124 to fight the fire and look for occupants. 

With fire and smoke on all three floors of the building, time was of the essence as crews could be ordered out at any time. FF Gonzalez went to the third floor where conditions were so intense, he had to lay down on his back to kick open doors in search of occupants sleeping or trapped. 

With total disregard for his own personal safety FF Gonzalez started his Primary search of a 3-floor apartment. Despite punishing heat conditions, he pushed forward deeper into the apartment. Moments before hearing orders to get out and go defensive, F.F. Gonzales located a victim and was able to drag the gentleman to the stairway where F.F. Clemens assisted in removing the victim to the street and then into Ambulance 32. The man rescued by FF Gonzalez was transported to Swedish Covenant hospital and then transported to Loyola Medical for further treatment. 

Firefighter Juan Gonzalez performed heroically above and beyond the call of duty under extremely dangerous conditions to complete his task and save the trapped victim who surely would have perished had it not been for his quick but complete search of the units.

2023 Firefighter Award of Valor Captain John Haring.

On November 11th at about 7pm Truck 44 responded to a fire reported at 835 W. Belden Ave. Captain John Haring quickly began his size-up, and quickly located the fire after racing up a stairwell to the third floor as tenants were running out. Entering the apartment on fire, Capt. Haring and members of Truck 44 and Engine 55 encountered heavy black smoke and intense heat. Capt. Haring began a primary search with fire now extending out from the kitchen into the dining area and spreading fast. 

Capt. Haring moved down the hallway toward the fire battling intense heat and blinding smoke. Using his hands, he found a woman on the floor unresponsive.  Capt. Haring called over the radio to announce he had a victim and began moving her alone about 20 ft. to the front stairwell. Capt. Haring met other members of Truck 44 who removed the victim for medical assistance. Capt. Haring then returned to the apartment where Engine 55 was controlling the fire and continued to check for more occupants. 

Due to the bravery, expertise, and calm under extreme conditions the woman was removed and transported to the hospital for further treatment.  Capt. John Haring exemplified what the Chicago Fire Department strives to represent – courage, strength, and professionalism under fire.

2023 Paramedic Award of Valor Paramedic in Charge Randie Hillison and Fire Paramedic Karen Neumann.

On September 28th Ambulance 36 with Paramedic in Charge Randie Hillison and Fire Paramedic Karen Neumann were responding to a call for medical assistance at 5532 S Wabash. As Ambulance 36 approached the intersection of 56th and Wabash gun shots rang out. Both Hillison and Neumann heard approximately 10-gun shots and were so close to the shooter they saw the muzzle flash from the gun. After notifying OEMC of the situation they immediately stopped the ambulance as they saw a civilian go down after being hit by gunfire. As they exited the ambulance, disregarding their own safety, they started to attend to the victim who was also pregnant.  Knowing the risk of treating the patient on the street they quickly assisted the woman to the safety of Ambulance 36 and drove a short distance to get away from further gunfire as shots continued.

They quickly stabilized the woman who had been shot in the back and transported her to the University of Chicago. 

Paramedic in Charge Randie Hillison and Fire Paramedic Karen Nuemann performed with total disregard for their own personal safety to remove the victim from a very dangerous situation.  They stabilized the victim and treated her gunshot wounds. Their action prevented a bad situation from becoming a tragic one.

2023 Firefighter of the Year Award and 2023 Paramedic of the Year Award

On July 2nd the west side of Chicago received as much as 8 inches of rain causing flash flooding in the area.  The Chicago Fire vehicles were hindered by flooded streets and viaducts throughout the westside, forcing them to look for passable alternates.

Engine 96, Truck 29, and additional companies from the 7th Battalion were dispatched to a fire at 1225 N. Lavergne. Upon arrival Engine 96 reported a basement fire in an occupied building.  Engine 96 immediately advanced a hose line down into the basement to contain and extinguish the fire as Truck 29 started search & rescue operations.  FF Michael Gibson was advancing the hose nozzle in the basement to the seat of the fire when suddenly FF Gibson screamed out in pain and crew members saw him go down in 2 to 3 feet of water.  Lt Karman went to FF Gibson’s aid and immediately received electrical shocks as he attempted to pick him up.  The entire flooded basement was energized with live electricity!  Lt Karman requested a May-Day response for a downed Firefighter.  

Truck 26 was assigned as the Rapid Intervention Team   Truck 26’s Officer ordered a member to detach the electric meter to cut all power to the building.  The members of Truck 26 and Truck 36 removed FF Gibson’s turnout gear and began CPR as they exited the basement.  He was in cardiac arrest as a result of electrocution.

Paramedic in Charge Steven Gutzmer and Fire Paramedic Terry Jones placed FF Gibson’s lifeless body on a stretcher and treatment was started.  Once inside Ambulance 63 a defibrillator was used to resuscitate the firefighter.  The defibrillator was needed two more times as both paramedics worked feverishly to resuscitate FF Gibson assisted by firefighters on the scene.  Prior to transport to the hospital FF Gibson was successfully resuscitated, showed a good pulse and spontaneous breathing returned.  

If not for the heroic actions of these members the outcome would have been much different.  The Ethos of “Never Leaving a Comrade in Need” was demonstrated on July 2nd, 2023, at 1225 N Lavergne.  

As a result of their professionalism and dedication to the Mission of the Chicago Fire Department the following are awarded the 2023 Firefighter of Year Award and 2023 Paramedic of the Year Award.

Captain/EMT Denijal Milat PIC Steven Gutzmer

FF/EMT Christopher Wyher FPM Terry Jones, Jr.

FF/EMT Timothy Beucher

FF/EMT Brandon Gasparas

Lt./EMT David Navarro

FF Frank Carone

FF/EMT Daniel Myers

FF/EMT Michael Guzolek

FF/EMT Kevin Mayer