Chicagoland writer documents EMS history

Chicagoland writer documents EMS history

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Chicagoland writer documents EMS history

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.”

Typical scene at a local emergency room

Typical scene at a local emergency room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.”

Ambulance from the Orland Fire Protection DIstrict showcased during the annual Orland Days Parade in 2015

Ambulance from the Orland Fire Protection DIstrict showcased during the annual Orland Days Parade in 2015

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

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. Email him at

This post has already been read 1316 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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