A Mundelein firefighter-paramedic received an award Monday for saving the life of a 3-year-old girl, who was unresponsive and critically injured in a crash, while he was off-duty.
Firefighter-Paramedic Dan Buhrmester was on his way home from dropping his children off at a birthday party on September 11, according to Dr. Ben Feinzimer, the director of emergency medical services at NorthShore Highland Park Hospital.
He was traveling on Interstate 94 in Northbrook during a rainstorm when he came across a “horrific” crash, Feinzimer said.
Buhrmester stopped his car, jumped over the median into the opposite lanes of traffic where the crash occurred and tended to the victims.
He quickly noticed an unconscious 3-year-old. Buhrmester was in his street clothes and had no equipment with him.
Buhrmester brought the child to the ground and began performing CPR.
“Despite the incredibly unkind conditions, despite he was rendering care in the middle of a highway, despite he had no tools with him, and he knew the chances of survival is really low. He did everyone he could to try and save her life,” Feinzimer said.
Feinzimer said there is data that emphasizes the probability of what Buhrmester and the arriving fire department personnel accomplished is “essentially zero.”
“This poor little girl really had no real chance at survival. So whether by miracle or sheer will, or a little bit of both, she survived,” Feinzimer said.
Buhrmester was a large part of why the child survived, Feinzimer added. “It is a fact that without Dan this little girl would have died.”
Buhrmester downplayed his role and told the doctor that he was “only the small link in a chain of survival.”
Buhrmester credited the dispatchers, the bystanders, hospital staff and fire personnel.
“Instead, her family can continue to celebrate holidays together, continue to make memories, continue to laugh. They can still be a family,” Feinzimer said.
Feinzimer described Buhrmester’s act as “selfless” and said Mundelein is lucky to have him.
Mundelein Fire Chief Bill Lark gave Buhrmester an individual citation award during the Village of Mundelein’s Monday board meeting.
“He should be proud of his actions and know it is for days like these that he chose this profession,” Lark said before handing the citation to Buhrmester.