12-15-2016-1-57-44-PM-4816186

Ray Hanania: Local writer documents history of EMS services

A seven-year veteran of the Army and the co-founder and former chief of the Child Homicide Unit for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Paul Ciolino has worked as aprofessional investigator since 1981, specializing in complex criminal defense and fraud investigations, and wrongful conviction investigations.

Ciolino was a former classmate of mine at Reavis High School. One of his most remarkable achievements was his instrumental role in getting five men freed from death row and three more from life sentences, all in Illinois prisons. I’ve watched him in interviews many times on national TV including on the ABC investigative series, “20/20.”

In 1999, Gov. George Ryan issued the first-ever death penalty moratorium after Ciolino secured a videotaped confession in a 19-year-old double homicide for which an innocent man had been convicted.

In 2003, when Ryan granted clemency and pardons to 167 Illinois death row inmates, he cited Ciolino’s work as one of his main reasons for doing so.

Of course, someone that successful isn’t without a few controversies driven by jealousies, lies and politics. But that’s in the nuisance category way below his prestige. Ciolino is away above all that and proves that once again.

On the 44thanniversary of the founding of the paramedic system in America, this past Dec. 1, Ciolino released his fourth book, “Dead in Six Minutes: The Biography of Dr. Stanley M. Zydlo Jr., M.D. Founder and Architect of the Modern Paramedic System.”

It’s a fascinating story of how one determined medical doctor founded the first publicly funded paramedic system, a medical emergency system that we take for granted today.

But before 1972, you were lucky to make it to the hospital after suffering a heart attack or a stroke.

Zydlo, an emergency room physician, changed that and many people didn’t even know it all started here in Chicagoland.

“Dr. Zydlo was to the EMS & Paramedic service as Henry Ford was to the automobile industry and Bill Gates to the computer world,” Ciolino wrote after Zydlo’s death on June 3, 2015, at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, where he waschief of emergency medical services.

“In 1972, there were no paramedics, there was nothing even remotely close to the EMT and paramedic services as we know today. Stan Zydlo changed that. He and 10 Chicago northwest suburban fire chiefs created what we have today. They created a well trained and competent group of men who would eventually became responsible for the saving of millions of lives in the United States and the world.”

Ciolino writes that Zydlo set this paramedic system up literally on his own and at great personal expense, much of its paid for out of his own pocket.

Many in politics like myself might recognize the Zydlo name. His father was a Chicago alderman at a time when aldermen were tainted with corruption and he was convicted in 1980, two years after retiring from the City Council and just after I started covering City Hall.

I remember Ald. Stanley Zydlo of the 26thWard as a decent guy, convicted of trying to help one of his relatives get a job. He was a caring politician who took care of his neighbors and his ward and fought for the best interests of the city. And, he raised a great kid, too.

Ciolino’s book is must read. Too often, Chicagoland and especially the suburbs are overshadowed but the instances of non-stop corruption.

But Stanley Zydlo did a great job and I think redeemed his family name.

Just ask any of the millions of people who have had heart attacks over the years or who needed emergency medical on-scene care and were kept alive by paramedics Zydlo made a reality.

You can purchase the book online at www.DeadinSixMinutes.com.

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. Email him at [email protected]

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