Local writer documents history of EMS services
Writer, celebrated investigator and Reavis High school graduate Paul Ciolino has penned a new book that documents the creation of the public paramedic system, EMS, which has saved countless lives since it was implemented in 1972
Originally published in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News and the Reporter Newspapers Dec. 14, 2016
By Ray Hanania
A seven-year veteran of the United States Army and the co-founder and former chief of the Child Homicide Unit for the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services, Paul Ciolino has worked as a professional investigator since 1981, specializing in complex criminal defense and fraud investigations, and wrongful conviction investigations.
A former classmate of mine at Reavis High school, where he graduated, too, one of Ciolino’s 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 TV investigative series, 20/20.
In 1999, Illinois Governor George Ryan issued the first-ever death penalty moratorium after Ciolino secured a videotaped confession in a l9-year-old double homicide for which an innocent nan had been convicted. In 2003, when former Governor Ryan granted clemency and pardons to 167 Illinois death row inmates, he cited Paul 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 44th anniversary of the founding of the paramedic system in America, this past Dec. 1, 2016, 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 as a given.
But before 1972, you were lucky to make it to the hospital after 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, with
“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 following Zydlo’s death on June 3, 2015 at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights where he was chief of emergency medical services at after a brief illness.
“In 1972 there were no paramedics, there was nothing even remotely close to the EMT & Paramedic services as we know today. Stan Zydlo changed that. He and ten 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 who tainted with corruption and convicted in 1980, two years after retiring from the City Council and just after I started covering City Hall.
I remember Alderman Stanley Zydlo of the 26th Ward 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 think and I think redeem 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)