Lynn Fishman was honored as "Telecommunicator of the Year" in Illinois for her exceptional handling of three separate incidents. Curt Kuempel of the Evanston Police Department (right) Police Chief Richard Eddington (center), and Fire Chief Alan Berkowsky (not in photo) helped present the award.

Evanston’s sewer relief system, completed in 2008 after 18 years of work at a cost of $215 million, was recognized as the most important civil engineering feat in Illinois last year.

At the Oct. 26 City Council meeting, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl accepted an award from Bob Gorski, past presdietn of the Illinois section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Dave Stoneback, superintendent of the City’s water/sewer division, said the sewer relief system allows storm water to remain above ground, at some points for more than a city block, before draining into an underground sewer.

The project was begun in reaction to the 1989 “storm of the century,” Mr. Stoneback said, which flooded nearly every basement in Evanston. “But the proof is in the pudding,” he said, “most basements were dry during and after the 2008 ‘storm of the century.’”

Lynn Fishman seems to be the kind of 911 operator everyone would hope to have in an emergency. At the Oct. 26 City Council meeting, Curt Kuempel of the Evanston Police Department described Ms. Fishman’s actions during three incidents, which earned her the title of “Telecommunicator of the Year” in Illinois.

In one incident, Ms Fishman was able to dispatch rescue workers to a boat more than two miles out in Lake Michigan, where the caller reported that three of her companions who had jumped into the lake without life vests were no longer visible. Nor did the caller know where she was, Mr. Kuempel said.

The other two incidents Mr. Kuempel described requiring sending multiple vehicles as well as prolonged conversations to assist and reassure people in emergency situations. The City of Evanston receives about 50,000 emergency calls each year, Mr. Kuempel said, and teamwork among the operators on duty is key. During her nearly 20 years on the Evanston police force, Ms. Fishman has trained about 75 percent of the City’s telecommunications staff, he said. Ms. Fishman received a standing ovation from the City Council and the audience.