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Off duty paramedic, firefighter helps in I-55 accident

CHANNAHON – Paramedics and emergency medical technicians are used to jumping into action to attend to life-and-death situations at a moment’s notice – sometimes even when they’re off duty.

Edward Eddy, paramedic and firefighter with the Channahon Fire Protection District, was off duty last week, pulling off Interstate 55 at the Route 6 ramp when something caught his eye. A semitrailer had jackknifed on the interstate’s north-bound side. A red passenger car also was involved.

Eddy immediately called in the accident and told his co-workers the best way to access the scene. Before he knew it, he was at the fire department in an emergency vehicle headed to the site. It paid off, too. There was more than one accident along that stretch of icy interstate and the responders needed all the help they could get.

“It was chaotic,” Eddy said, “and there was significant damage. ... A Troy rig was already there. The chief from Wilmington came, Minooka came, Lockport, the helicopter ... we all worked together.”

Eddy immediately climbed up on the semi, evaluated the condition of the driver and did his best to keep him calm. It took his whole team and several others to extricate the driver from his rig before he was flown to a hospital.

“I felt happy the way it turned out,” Eddy said. “I was glad of what everyone there did. We all worked together great.”

Channahon Fire Chief John Petrakis praised those individuals who choose to serve as paramedics.

“I don’t know if there’s a word out there that describes the uniqueness of these men and women,” Petrakis said. “To be prepared for anything and everything takes a special kind of person and these people are extraordinarily special.”

The job can take a toll at times, Petrakis said, especially when they can’t save a patient.

“They’re human, and the situations we put them in are not always human,” he said.

Being a paramedic can mean transporting a patient to a nursing home, responding to a cardiac arrest call, helping at a multi-vehicle accident and even gently lifting a crying child off a deceased parent, Petrakis said.

They’ve seen it all.

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