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E.C. responders' blizzard work hailed
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E.C. responders' blizzard work hailed

EAST CHICAGO | Firefighters and paramedics were honored by the Board of Public Safety recently for their actions during the Blizzard of 2011.

The first responders came in a day early on their own time, said Fire Chief Pedro Rodriguez, to make sure they'd be at the station when their shift started no matter what.

"Firefighters and paramedics pride themselves on many things," said Assistant Chief Carlos Aburto, "But none more than preparedness.

"These men and women took it upon themselves to stay ahead of the storm, to stand watch over the citizens of East Chicago."

Nearly 2 feet of snow fell on the city beginning Feb. 1 in what is considered the third-worst recorded storm in region history.

"They said the blizzard would paralyze a city this size, but I saw firefighters ready" said Mayor Anthony Copeland, himself a 26-year veteran firefighter.

"It was a test of how great a city this is," Copeland said, "And we can achieve even greater things if we stick together as one."

Honored for their actions during the storm were Capt. Kevin Duda, Paramedic John Hart, Capt. Joseph Coto, Assistant Chief Oscar Garza and Paramedic Corinne "Joie" Saikin.

Emergency snow removal cost the city $155,542, according to the Board of Public Works. Regionwide, the blizzard was estimated to have cost at least $1.3 million.

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