Joseph Gray Named Park Forest Firefighter of the Year

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Fire Chief Robert Wilcox Firefighter/Paramedic Joseph Gray with the Firefighter of the Year Award. (Photo: ENWESPF)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Firefighter/Paramedic Joseph Gray was honored as Park Forest Firefighter of the Year at an awards ceremony at last week’s Village Board meeting. Fire Chief Robert Wilcox and administrative members of the Park Forest Fire Department presented awards to Gray and several other members of the department. The Fire Department’s Life Saving Award was presented to Firefighter/Paramedics Mark Cotrano and Edward Wright. The Meritorious Unit Commendation was presented to Lieutenant/Paramedic Paul Hodges and Firefighter/Paramedic James Lustig.

The first award presented was the Firefighter-of-the-Year. According to Chief Wilcox, the award is presented to the Firefighter who best exemplifies by his/her performance the principles and purposes of the fire service and the Park Forest Fire Department. This award is open to all ranks of the Park Forest Fire Department. The Board, when considering nominees, reviews the record of the nominee with special attention given to the preceding year. Such factors as performance as measured by evaluations and supervisors observations, attendance, appearance, dedication to duty and efforts toward self-improvement are considered. This award is presented in the form of a plaque, medal, ribbon bar and certificate.

The following is narrative from the event provided by the Park Forest Fire Department:

Firefighter/Paramedic Joseph Gray has been a career member of the Park Forest Fire Department for 19 years. Beginning his career on October 16, 1989, Fire/Medic Gray has always been an active participant in department activities, has been an acting officer on numerous occasions and continually exhibits commitment, professionalism and integrity. Fire/Medic Gray has acted as a mentor for many of the younger shift members and is always available to lend a hand when needed. Fire/Medic Gray was active as a shift fire inspector, has worked on a variety of public education related projects and is an active member of the CART organization.

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Award recipients (left to right): Firefighter/Paramedics James Lustig, Mark Cotrano, Edward Wright, and Lieutenant/Paramedic Paul Hodges. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Fire/Medic Gray’s can-do attitude has resulted in the completion of special projects that have benefited the fire department, other Village departments, surrounding fire departments and the residents of Park Forest. Over the years Fire/Medic Gray has worked on creating various training props, public education displays, the fire safety trailer and the video firefighter display board at Village Hall. Most recently, he accepted the daunting task of taking the Chief’s vision of a Fire/Police Monument and coordinated various contractors to bring to fruition a memorial honoring retired firefighters and police officers. This memorial represents the brotherhood that exists between firefighters and police officers and will still be standing long after Fire/Medic Gray’s service.

Firefighter/Paramedic Joseph Gray’s performance and professionalism are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Fire Service and reflect credit upon himself, the Fire Department and the Village of Park Forest.

The next series of awards presented was the Life Saving Award and Meritorious Unit Commendation Award.

The Life Saving Award is given to a member of the Department for an act or series of actions in which the life of another is saved. The standard to be met is the “if not for” test. It will be presented in the form of a medal, ribbon bar and certificate.

The Meritorious Unit Commendation Award is presented to those individuals or units who performed and exhibited exceptional skills in a coordinated action. Award presented to an individual or unit who has demonstrated exceptional skill, proficiency and dedication to duty while operating under an emergency incident. It will be presented in the form of a medal, ribbon bar and certificate.

In the early morning of August 8, 2008, Firefighter/Paramedics Edward Wright and Mark Cotrano, as members of Ambulance 65, responded to a call for an unresponsive patient having an asthma attack. Upon arrival Fire/Medics Wright and Cotrano found a 63 year old female unresponsive and in severe respiratory distress. Given her medical condition Fire/ Medics Wright and Cotrano immediately attempted intubation to reestablish the patient’s airway. After multiple attempts the ambulance crew was able to intubate the patient, provide ventilation assistance and necessary drug therapy. Engine 50 responded with Lieutenant/Paramedic Paul Hodges and Firefighter/Paramedic James Lustig who joined the team providing Advanced Life Support care to the patient.

The efforts of this crew saved the patient’s life and were recognized by the South Cook County Emergency Medical System with the presentation of an Outstanding Call Award and a Gold Seal to represent the pre-hospital save.

Lieutenant/Paramedic Hodges and Firefighter/Paramedics Cotrano, Wright and Lustig’s devotion to duty is in keeping with the highest traditions of the Fire Service and reflect credit upon themselves, the Fire Department and the Village of Park Forest.