Highland News Leader

Highland Optimists honor local firefighters

Highland EMS Chief Wilson presented the Optimists’ EMS Award of the Year to paramedics Todd Zobrist and Ty Barr.
Highland EMS Chief Wilson presented the Optimists’ EMS Award of the Year to paramedics Todd Zobrist and Ty Barr.

Awards continue to pile up for two Highland paramedics who saved a baby from the frigid waters of Silver Lake in March. This time, they were honored by the Highland Optimist Club, which hosted its annual awards night for local firefighters July 17.

Highland EMS Chief Wilson presented the Optimists’ EMS Award of the Year to paramedics Ty Barr and Todd Zobrist.

Zobrist and his partner Ty Barr had already worked nearly a 24-hour shift when they responded to an emergency call around 5:30 a.m. March 16 at Silver Lake, where an SUV was partially submerged.

When Zobrist and Barr arrived, they could still see the headlights from the SUV beaming through the cold water in the predawn darkness. They knew they must act fast, knowing that firefighters with a boat and special diving gear were stuck at a railroad crossing.

Zobrist swam 75 feet in life-threatening, 46-degree water, where he found an infant boy floating inside the SUV. The baby was not breathing, so Zobrist performed CPR on the baby while on the roof of the SUV, and the baby began to breathe on his own.

About seven minutes after Zobrist and Barr arrived on the scene, Zobrist dove back into the water, swimming back to shore with the baby in tow.

The Optimist award is just the latest in a string of accolades bestowed upon Zobrist, Baar and other Highland emergency personnel who played a role in the events of March 16. Zobrist was honored in May with the EMS Hero Award from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The Illinois General Assembly, Highland City Council, Madison County and the VFW have also honored Zobrist and the other first-responders and city employees who helped that day.

At the Optimists’ meeting, Zobrist, who also serves as a captain with the Highland-Pierron Fire Department, was also presented with the Fireman of the Year award for HPFD, for his work with fire prevention, particularly with the fire prevention trailer, and also for always bringing new ideas.

Highland Fire Department Chief Rick Bloemker also presented the Fireman of the Year award for HFD to Capt. Stephen Clayton for his efforts in public education and fire prevention.

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