As Louise Fitzpatrick applied defibrillator paddles to his chest, Robert Roberts was unconscious, in a world that bent time and space.
“I was flying through places I’ve spent a lot of time in my life and I saw my wife in the future and my son in the future. But no one was telling me come to the light,” Roberts, 42, recalled Wednesday after a Chicago Fire Department award ceremony honoring emergency medical personnel.
Roberts collapsed at the door to his Ravenswood apartment after carrying a load of groceries up two flights of stairs in March of last year.
“And if you ever cut up a piece of paper into a snowflake, it was like that coming at me in all different colors. Some other things I saw were not so good that I don’t want to share,” said Roberts, a middle school teacher.
Fitzpatrick, 48, a CFD ambulance commander credited with saving Roberts’ life, gave him a couple of gift-wrapped presents, including one for Roberts’ 3-year-old son, and said simply of paramedics’ rescue efforts that day: “Everything worked.”
The ceremony took place at the Quinn Fire Academy at Jefferson and Taylor Streets.
This year’s Joseph McCarthy Award, named in honor of the WWII Medal of Honor recipient who also helped establish ambulance services within the fire department, was given to paramedic Ronald Kent, 34, and firefighter Brendan Hehir, 35.
The two men treated Mia Rodgers, 8, last summer in Rogers Park after she inhaled a green balloon she was trying to inflate.
They could see the tip of the balloon in her airway. After several unsuccessful attempts to remove it, and as Mia turned blue, the pair used a suction device akin to one used by a dentist to pull it out.
“They mean my life to me,” Mia said Wednesday.
In all, 80 commendations were handed out.