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West Dundee fire chief honored for life-saving action

West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Freise. | Submitted

West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Freise. | Submitted

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Updated: January 19, 2014 11:56AM

WEST DUNDEE — A last-minute stop at a local nursery last August became the chance to save a life for West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Freise.

Freise was off-duty when he and his wife stopped at Ambrose Greenhouse & Landscape in Sleepy Hollow on their way home from church. They had been chatting with some people at the store when a man began to choke due to a piece of meat stuck in his throat.

Freise jumped around the counter and immediately began giving the man the Heimlich maneuver. After a few thrusts, the piece of meat flew out of the man’s mouth.

“If the chief hadn’t been there, the man was at risk for dying, especially with the fact that his airways were completely blocked,” West Dundee Village President Chris Nelson said.

And it wasn’t until the man’s family told village officials about the incident that it came to light.

“He never brought it up to anybody, which is definitely a Chief Freise thing to do — to do good work and to not make a big deal of it,” Nelson said.

Due to his heroic efforts, Freise was awarded West Dundee’s inaugural Lamplighter Award at Monday night’s village board meeting.

He is humbled by the honor.

“It means a lot to get the first one,” Freise said. “It’s kind of special. I wasn’t looking for recognition, but it’s nice to get it.”

As for his actions last August, “I guess I was meant to be there that day,” Freise said.

Nelson said the Lamplighter Award will be handed out bi-annually.

“One of the things I wanted to do when I came into office was to make sure we recognized employees and the direction of the board supported that,” Nelson said. “Our employees are very committed to our organization. I wanted to re-establish a program recognizing them.”

As for Freise’s heroic actions, Nelson said, “He was off-duty and knew something was going on and did something.”

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