November 10, 2020
Ryan Dixon performs the type of foundational work that keeps our hospitals running. As a stationary engineer for North Suburban Medical Center, Dixon helps to keep the hospital running by doing electrical work, plumbing, HVAC repairs, and more. He is part of a silent group of healthcare heroes who work behind the scenes to keep hospitals running and in good order around the clock, and like so many veterans who live among us, you wouldn’t know it, but Dixon is also a trained combat soldier and honorably discharged veteran – a protector among us.
Dixon joined the North Suburban team nearly three years ago, right after serving two decades in the U.S. Army and inactive Ready Reserves. Dixon joined the U.S. Army right out of high school, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great grandfather who all served in the military.
“I am a fourth-generation military man, so I guess it was just in my blood,” said Dixon. “The spirit to serve and protect was always in my home.” In his first years in the Army, Dixon focused on learning hand to hand combat, weapons proficiency and operating M1A1 tanks.
“I really liked our annual ‘desert days’ when we would spend a month in Death Valley practicing maneuvers on M1A1 tanks,” said Dixon. “We were learning valuable lessons and really becoming a strong unit.”
Like so many people in the United States, Ryan was deeply saddened by the events of 9/11, and as a member of military, Dixon knew that he would be called to serve and protect his country in a very real and important way, and in 2001, Dixon became part of the First Army Combat Unit deployed under the Department of Homeland Security established in 2002 following 9/11. These elite units are trained to be “the first in and last out” and those who serve in these units face the most dangerous deployments.
Dixon served in that unit for a majority of his career, and learned key trades that would set him up for success - electrical work, mechanics, and more. After serving as an active member of the Army for eight years, Dixon decided to join the U.S. Army Reserves.
Using the skills he learned during his service, he began working as an auto mechanic while in the reserves and became a journeyman and heavy equipment operator. He also went to school to become an electrician right before his deployment for Operation Noble Eagle.
“We were escorting trucks coast to coast – we had teams in various locations around the states to ensure our supplies were getting out – without any interruptions.”
Today, Dixon puts the leadership skills he gained from the Army into practice each day at North Suburban Medical Center, “I have a strong work ethic and I learned how to get the job done to the best of your ability – don’t take shortcuts.”
He is well-known throughout the hospital and is a previous winner of the “Patient Experience Colleague of the Month” award where he was recognized for stepping in to set up a seating area for a family experiencing the death of a loved one. After setting up the room, he placed tissue boxes around and stood at the doorway greeting the family and offering words of peace as they entered – a show of compassion that he regularly displays.
Dixon continues his work in helping to maintain the hospital, and proudly wears his Veterans Day hat each year on Veterans Day. “My coworkers always say, ‘thank you for your service’ when I wear it. It’s great to be a part of a team that honors my service.”