Rockville Centre officials recognize firefighters and contest winners


Rockville Centre’s village board honored heroes who saved a man’s life and young contest winners who supported local businesses at its meeting on Feb. 4.

Deputy Mayor Kathy Baxley called up Rockville Centre Fire Department Chief Brian Cook, Second Assistant Chief James Avondet and firefighters Daniel Navarino and Johnny Cook to be recognized.

On Sept. 23 at about 7 p.m., according to Baxley, the Fire Department was alerted to a rescue call for a man in cardiac arrest at Bigelow’s restaurant on North Long Beach Road. As units were responding, police department members radioed that they had cardiopulmonary resuscitation in progress.

Fire Department members arrived at the scene, and the man was lifted onto a stretcher. Chief Cook started compressions and continued them until he was loaded into a Northwell Health ambulance that had responded. Once the man was in the ambulance, Navarino took over compressions and Avondet started rescue breathing. On the way to the hospital, Chief Cook’s son, Johnny, started the rescue breathing while the Northwell medic performed advanced life support on the patient.

Upon arriving at the hospital, Johnny took over compressions as Navarino began rescue breathing until the man was admitted.

“It is our honor to recognize the four volunteer members of the Rockville Centre Fire Department here tonight for their actions in saving a man’s life,” Baxley said at the meeting, adding that this was Chief Cook’s 10th save.

Mayor Francis X. Murray added, “We love our Rockville Centre Fire Department. …I always brag about them.”

He then introduced Lisa Umansky, owner of Polka Dot Pound Cake, to announce the winners of the village’s annual Snowman Hunt. The Snowman Hunt, which in its third year ran from Nov. 24 to Dec. 22, aims to progress Rockville Centre’s own “shop small” movement by giving businesses exposure, promoting community involvement and getting into the spirit of the season.

The festive activity encourages children to find at least 10 stuffed snowmen at 46 local stores for a chance to win gift certificates. Shops get a snowman hunt kit with flyers to hand out to children, stickers to stamp the flyer when a child finds a snowman and the stuffed snowman to hide in the shop.

Four children participants — Luke Mullen, Caroline Reda, Benjamin Freise and Patrick Primrose — won a $50 gift certificate, and Sienna Scarpelli, who visited all 46 businesses, won a $100 gift certificate.

“I felt that we needed something to unify the community as a whole and our small businesses, reminding all of us to shop small and shop local,” said Umansky, who came up with the idea in 2016, as she congratulated the winners. “That’s never been more important. . . when we can order almost anything from the comfort of our couch on our phone.”

Briana Bonfiglio contributed to this story.