Chicago paramedics honored

May 20, 2009 (CHICAGO) Among the presenters was an 8-year-old girl who wanted to thank the paramedics who rescued her.

Emergency Medical Services Week is celebrated annually to honor the men and women who perform EMS. The event took place at the Chicago Fire Academy. One by one firefighters and EMS personnel went on stage to receive their recognition, including 62-year-old Jim Surma who has spent 38 years and has gone on over 350,000 EMS service calls.

"I really look up to people like Jim. When you think you're having I long day or a bad day, think of how many he has had," said John Brooks, Chicago fire commissioner.

EMS technician Johnny Hendricks and fire fighter Debbie Fleming were recognized for saving the life of one of their very own first deputy chief of police with the Cook Country forest preserve Eddie McCann who had suffered a heart attack and refused service.

"I didn't know I was having a massive heart attack. They recognized that. I said give me the pay phone. They said no, we're taking you to the nearest hospital," said Eddie McCann, Jr, Cook County Forest Preserve.

"That day the job was done well. For somebody to come out and appreciate that, that's even better," said Johnny Hendricks, Emergency Medical Services.

"I'm just glad he's OK. That's always a good feeling when you know you made a difference in someone's life," said Debbie Fleming, firefighter.

The most touching moment of the event came when the Bracken family went on stage. Eight-year-old Grace is a stroke survivor. She suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm in her home. Grace was thrilled that paramedic Jason Kasper and firefighter John Pearson received an award for saving her life.

"I'm just really proud that they got an award because they really deserve it," said Grace Bracken.

"I can't tell you how much the gratitude my family has," said Shean Bracken, Grace's father.

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