Meet Three of SW Lake County’s Finest First Responders

As November calls us to reflect upon what we’re grateful for, we reached out to those whose work we too often take for granted: our local First Responders, who dedicate their careers to running into the face of danger to keep us safe. While we celebrate being home for the holidays, in many cases they’re not able to be, as their vigilance may require service on any day, at any hour. Here are three of SW Lake County’s very finest, sharing career highlights, motivations, philosophy on public service, and tips for those interested in giving it a try.

Rob Loyal, Lieutenant, Lake Zurich Fire Dept.

What motivated you to consider this career? 

Family tradition. My dad was a fireman in Arlington Heights for 30 years, I’m coming up on 30 years, and my little brother’s been a fireman for 20 years in Waukegan. We’ve all three held the rank of Lieutenant.

Can you offer any advice to young people considering a career as a first responder?

Be aware of educational requirements. Some Departments require certain college credits; College of Lake County has a good “tech prep” program around fire service. For younger people, many Departments here have an Explorer program for high schoolers, who visit the firehouse twice monthly and are introduced to basic operations of a firefighter, and ride along with some emergency calls. Two of our current Firefighters were Explorers as teens.

What are you thankful for?

My friends, my family, and life itself; doing this for 30 years and retiring healthy and by choice.

 

Robyn Stankiewicz, Deputy Sheriff, Lake County Police

How long have you been in law enforcement?

Just over 16 years.

Who was your hero growing up?

My mother; she has always kept a positive attitude on life and has been my rock. 

What motivated you to consider this career? 

As a child, I always looked up to police officers. Making a difference in someone’s life was a big factor.

Can you share an experience that shows the satisfaction you get from the job?

There’s a young gentleman who had a brain injury a few years ago. He rides his bike around the area where I work. When he stops to take a break, people think he’s drunk or crazy, as he doesn’t speak very well and can’t move once he becomes tired. When I get there, he smiles because he knows me, and that I’ll help him. Because others don’t know of his injury, I’m in a unique position to help. I’ve driven him back to his house multiple times. 

 

Greg Brendle, Firefighter/EMT, Lake Zurich Fire Dept.

Why choose this career?

I was in the Marines, and liked the military-style structure. Soon after moving here I saw an ad and started working towards becoming a Firefighter… now I’m almost 25 years in, and my son is a certified Firefighter/EMTB, in paramedic school at Northwestern. 

Share a highlight from your career?

So many things stand out. There was a lady one December experiencing tough times who decided she didn’t want to live any more. She wandered off into the snow and her tracks led off the path into an ravine of trees and brush. Using a thermal imaging camera, we found her curled up in the snow, and were able to get her help.

What’s your philosophy regarding Public Service?

It’s like the old saying: If you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. It’s giving back to people, and I’ve absolutely loved it. You won’t look back later and feel you missed making a difference.