Holiday memories

Flossmoor Fire Chief Chris Sewell, Fire Lt. Chris Bednarek and
retired Chicago Heights Fire Chief James Angell.

(Photo by Tom Houlihan/HF Chronicle)

Firefighters prepare for the worst.

They train for conditions where searing high temperatures and unsafe buildings pose severe danger to the community – and themselves. They are asked to rescue our neighbors from fire, traffic accidents and other life-threatening incidents. They willingly go into places where few of us would ever take one step.

This spring, however, Chris Bednarek, a firefighter and Flossmoor resident, was ready to help when a life and death situation literally came to him. When that happened, he was ready and saved someone’s life.

At last Monday’s Flossmoor Village Board meeting, Bednarek was officially commended for his heroism.

Flossmoor Fire Chief Chris Sewell described Bednarek’s actions on the morning of April 21.

Shortly before 10 a.m., Bednarek, a lieutenant on the Chicago Heights Fire Department, was working in his home on the east end of Flossmoor. He heard the scream of someone in pain.

“He looked up and saw a person, on fire, running through the backyards adjacent to his residence,” Sewell said. “Without any thought for his own safety Chris ran after, tackled, and put out the flames that were severely burning this individual.”

Bednarek dialed 911 on his cell phone and reported what he believed to be his location. However, it did not match the location as it appeared on the E-Com area communications system. He recognized the discrepancy and used the GPS location of his cell phone to bring paramedics to the right location.

Following the arrival of Flossmoor paramedics, Bednarek assisted the emergency crew in the patient’s initial treatment.

The fire victim received second- and third-degree burns. Approximately 60 percent of the patient’s body was burned, including burns to the airway.

“We transported the patient to Christ Hospital, and in no small part thanks to Chris’s efforts, despite being severely burned, the patient is alive today,” Sewell said.

“The exemplary actions of Chris, E-Com, and our paramedics truly made a difference in someone’s life. We sincerely thank all of them, and especially Chris, for their efforts in serving their fellow man.”

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