Amid the excitement of a $1.5 million winner being declared at the Steeleville's American Legion Queen of Hearts drawing, a young woman was having a medical issue in the back of the building.
Paramedics could not drive along the planned route — a street the police had blocked toward the back of the building — because vehicles had parked there despite the police order not to.
"The closest they could get was to the front, and the sheer amount of people, it was hard to get the stretcher through the crowd," said Steeleville Police Chief Jim Zeidler.
"We had people trying to leave at the same time with the ambulance in the road. It was about the worst time it could happen," he said.
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Paramedics did reach the woman, who ultimately declined a trip to the hospital, Zeidler said.
"We had the signs up that said road closed; as far as 'no parking' signs we probably could have done a little better ourselves," he said.
Police wrote "numerous parking tickets" on both the street that blocked the ambulance and on other roads, he said.
Zeidler said his department had requested and received help from other law enforcement agencies, but the Randolph County Sheriff's Deputies and Illinois State Trooper still had unrelated calls in the county that had to be handled.
"We didn't have all the manpower we were hoping to have," he said, adding that "we just can't predict" what will happen on a given night that will require police assistance elsewhere. Zeidler said the American Legion had not provided any money for additional officer salaries, nor did he expect them to.
The town has a population of about 2200 people and he estimates a crowd of 15,000 people were at the drawing. It took police about an hour to get traffic cleared after the drawing.
There are four weeks until the Legion hosts another Queen of Hearts drawing, Zeidler said.
"All we can do is learn from our mistakes and fix them the next time," he said.