Chicago 911 dispatchers honored for life-saving actions; retiring OEMC head gets standing ovation

Diane Pathieu Image
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Chicago 911 dispatchers honored for life-saving actions
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Chicago's Office of Emergency Management & Communications honored its 911 dispatchers Wednesday, along with retiring executive director Rich Guidice.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- They are the calming voice you need in an emergency: the people on the other end of the phone when you dial 911.

On Wednesday, it was their turn to get recognized for their life-saving actions. Shian Adams is one of those voices helping people all across Chicago.

"There are days it's harder than I do like to admit, but then I get through it," Adams said. "I know I'm helping people at the end of the day. That's what helps me get through it."

Emergency workers are behind the scenes at Chicago's Office of Emergency Management & Communications every day to help keep the city safe, and their hands are always full.

Like on January 25, when a fire broke out at a high-rise in the 4800-block of South Lake Park Avenue. Dispatchers kept taking calls and ensuring frantic residents that help was on the way.

"Fire operations dispatched and coordinated a huge CFD response to this incident with both EMS and fire suppression resources," Fire Operations Coordinator Mathew Tokarz said.

Hundreds of hard-working members of the city's emergency management team were awarded on Wednesday, finally together again in the same room since 2019.

It is the same team that took the many calls after Chicago Police Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso was shot and killed in Gage Park in March.

"All the PCO's involved did an excellent job during the most stressful and serious of incidents," said Third Watch Operations Manager John Willner. "Thank you for your excellence."

And in the end, a standing ovation for their executive director, who is retiring after 18 years with OEMC.

"I want to thank all of our workers here at OEMC and our Chicago police and fire department," OEMC Executive Director Rich Guidice said. "We would not be as successful as we are as a city. We have our ups and downs like everywhere else, but we're in this together."