East Meadow Fire Department goes above and beyond to assist a Navy veteran


The members of East Meadow Fire Department are always there when people need them. But for four young firefighters, their call to service went beyond a normal, everyday emergency call.

It was just a routine Wednesday on Feb. 8 when the fire department got a signal 9 call — code for difficulty breathing. Siblings Connor and Kasey Cheswick, 18, and 21 respectively, were the first responders on the scene with the medic fly car.

They found an elderly man, in his mid-90s, struggling to breathe. The man told them that he had been trying to fix his fence and his ripped U.S. Navy and American flags after they had been ruined by a fallen tree a couple days prior.

“When we got there his front porch light was broken, the tree was in the driveway and he told us it had happen Sunday,” Connor said. “His fence had fallen over and his flags were all ripped.”

Once the man was treated and transported to the nearest hospital, their jobs were technically done. But the next day, Connor knew they had to do more. So, Connor, Kasey, and fellow fire department members Omar Benthami, 21 — who had responded to the call on the ambulance — and Aidan Finneran, 18, went back to the man’s house to fix his fence and replace his flags.

“I took a ride after class that morning to the house and the tree was down pretty bad,” Connor said. “So I asked the people in the class with me if they wanted to come help me. It wasn’t easy, the fence was pretty heavy, so they offered to help.”

The four of them hit the stores and bought the man two new flags to fly in his yard. They bought nails and glue and went to work to mend his fence.

“We just decided that it was probably a good thing to go and help because we didn’t know how long he would be in the hospital for,” Kasey said. “He did so much for our country, so that was the least we could do to help him.”

It only took them about three hours and they later went to visit the man in the hospital to see how he was doing. They let him know that he didn’t have to worry about his fence and flags.

“He was so happy, it brought tears to his face,” Connor said. “He said that he couldn’t believe that there were still people out there like us, and then he asked what he could do for us, but we were like we don’t want anything.”

Helping out a veteran hit close to home for Connor and Kasey, whose grandfather served in the military. Finneran had two grandfathers serve during Vietnam, and other family members in the service.

“I would do anything to help veterans out,” said Finneran, who is considering joining the military. “When you swear in, you take the oath that says I’ll do my best to do my duty to God and my country and no matter the time or anything, and you have to be a special group and you have to go by that oath.”

The four volunteers also went back to the house one more time just to sweep the driveway and get rid of all the tree branches.

“I felt very rewarded,” Benthami said. “This is exactly why I signed up to do stuff like this, to help people. We are the future of the community and we need to make our presence known that we’re here for everybody.”