Rockville Centre honors 13 for bravery


Rockville Centre Mayor Francis Murray commended village firefighters and police officers at Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, and presented some of them with medals for saving the lives of four residents at a fire at a Woods Avenue home on July 17.

According to Fire Department Chief John Busching, fire-suppression units were dispatched after police, already en route, saw smoke in the vicinity of the residence. Former Captain John Glynn, who lives nearby, arrived first and attempted, without protective gear, to enter the home, Busching recounted. Glynn was driven out of the house by the heat.

The police and firefighters then found a ladder, got into the house by pushing in an air-conditioning unit and brought out a teenager. When they were told that another person was trapped inside, Busching said, former captains Anthony Rugulo and Ronald Kraemer went back in and found a woman who had made a 911 call unconscious on the floor.

Busching said that Lt. Jeffery Halstead, a paramedic with the Floodlight Rescue Company, met them outside and administered CPR to the woman, who had no pulse. Former Captain Kevin Edell and critical-care EMTs Tom Barbieri and Donna Hitscherich cared for her en route to the hospital.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, without this intervention, her airway would never have remained open,” Busching said. “When you inhale superheated gases, it tends to close your throat. It was these individuals that we’re recognizing this evening that went above and beyond.”

Police Commissioner Charles Gennario introduced six officers who were also honored for their service during the fire: Sgts. Ralph DiCosimo and Robert Heinemann, and officers Elliot Vega, Paul Kaplon, Terrence McCartney and Kenneth Robkoff.

According to Busching, the police ran into the split-level ranch house and rescued two other people, a man in a wheelchair and another teenager. Busching heaped praise on the Police Department, acknowledging that the officers, who had limited fire training, went in without protective gear.

“You don’t have the ability to just take a second before you go into that burning building or before you have to make a life-threatening decision,” Gennario said. “And these guys do it day in and day out. And I’m going to tell you right now, you have … the finest police officers in front of you.”

Gennario also announced the promotion of Detective Sal Mazza to sergeant, and swore him in. According to Gennario, Mazza has been a member of the Police Department since 2005, and a detective since 2011.

“One of the greatest privileges I have as commissioner is to promote those individuals in my command,” Gennario said, “and in Sal’s case, it’s a real honor. He’s a real outstanding police officer and an upstanding guy.”