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Local heroes in law enforcement honored at luncheon

TAMPA — The call came just before noon. A Carrollwood man in his 40s had chest pains. His heart was about to stop.

Michael Dilling got to work, shocking the man back to life.

The patient suffered another attack before the aspirin, morphine and other drugs kicked in. But he walked out of a hospital two weeks later with no mental or physical impairments.

Later, the man sent Christmas cards to Dilling and the other Hillsborough Fire Rescue workers on duty that day in December 2007. He thanked Dilling for keeping him around to see his daughter graduate from Florida State University.

Any other paramedic would've done the same, Dilling said.

"I really like to just go to work and do my job," Dilling said. "And when its time to go home I go home."

Dilling will go home with a plaque today, when Hillsborough County Fire Rescue names him Nancy Lee McKay Paramedic of the Year.

The 15th annual Our Heroes Luncheon at the Tampa Convention Center honors 14 law enforcement officers from city and county agencies, nominated for saving lives or making communities safer.

Sykes Enterprises Inc. helps to pay for the event, which is expected to draw 2,500 people.

Eight children of officers will receive $2,000 scholarships.

"Sykes felt it was important for the community to be able to show their appreciation because that's who these people are protecting and serving on a day-to-day basis," said Devin Dutcher, a spokeswoman for the event.

Dilling, 31, has been with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue since 2004. A month after the call that prompted his nomination, he was up for a promotion to lieutenant. Before that, he spent six months with Pasco County Fire Rescue and rode in ambulances for three years with Sunstar Emergency Medical Services.

Those honored include Hillsborough County Fire Rescue battalion Chief Ernie Wargo and firefighter Patrick Osborne; Hills­borough County Sheriff's Office Reserve II Lt. Paul Dahlke, Master Deputy Susan Shute and Deputy Justin Turmel; Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Frank Wells; Tampa International Airport Police Department Detective Valerie Finley.

Also, Tampa Police Department Detective Ronald Phifer and Reserve Officer David Miller; Temple Terrace Fire Department firefighter/paramedic Chris Ashley; Plant City Fire Rescue fire inspector James Stemo; Temple Terrace Police Department Officer Justin Miller and University of South Florida Police Department Officer Kevin Boyd.

Miller put in more than 600 hours of volunteer service and interrupted a routine traffic stop to chase down a sword-swinging man in a parking lot. Miller took the man into custody and cared for the victim with arm injuries. Finley ended a $100,000 jewelry investigation with the arrest of two suspects for the Tampa International Airport Police Department.

Dilling is just glad that peers think he's competent.

"They have me in that regard, but you know, I still have 25 years left in my career," Dilling said. "So the main goal is to not lose the drive."

Ileana Morales can be reached at imorales@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.

Local heroes in law enforcement honored at luncheon 05/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 11:25pm]
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