Lynbrook firefighters were honored at the Nassau County Legislative Chamber in Mineola on May 7 with valor awards by the Nassau County Fire Commission for their live saving efforts on two occasions in 2021.
The awards were presented by County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro and Commission Chairman Frances DeBobes. Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach and former Lynbrook Mayor and Assemblyman Brian Curran, who was representing County Legislator William Gaylor, were also in attendance.
The Silver Medal of Valor was presented to Lynbrook Chief John Donald, Chief Daniel Ambrosio, Capt. James DiGiambattista, former Capt. Scott Bien, and firefighter James Merkel for finding and saving a man from his burning basement apartment on Feb. 21, 2021.
Lynbrook firefighters were called to the fire on Shipherd Avenue in Lynbrook at just after 1:30 a.m. Although the upstairs occupants fled the building, firefighters quickly learned that a man living in the basement had not come out. Fire was blowing out one of the basement windows.
Assistant chiefs Donald and Ambrosio made their way down an outside basement staircase to enter the burning basement. After forcing their way inside, they found themselves in a boiler room. They forced open a second door into the apartment.
Without the assistance of a hose line to knock down the fire, the chiefs worked through the heavy black smoke and fire to find the victim. They worked their way in total smoking darkness and heat and fire through a cluttered apartment, which made it difficult and slow to maneuver. They were soon joined by Truck Company’s interior team of Bien, DiGiambattista, and Merkel.
Bien and Merkel made their way down a long hallway and finally found the victim on the floor of the rear kitchen He was unconscious and not breathing. They lifted the unconscious resident, but had to go through the whole burning apartment to get to the outside staircase where they came in. Bien and Merkel were soon joined by the others and all worked together to get the victim through the clutter and out of the basement.
When the resident was brought up and out of the basement, he was immediately handed off to members of the department’s Emergency Medical Company, who were waiting outside to take over. Former Capt. Janice Germain began immediate CPR when she found no pulse. She was assisted by Capt. Kaitlin Curran and First Lieut. Kacie Curran. They were joined by a Northwell supervising medic and a paramedic.
The team of Lynbrook’s EMS and Northwell paramedics continued CPR on the resident all the way to Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital, where ultimately, they were able to detect a pulse.
The five Lynbrook firefighters who made the rescue in the basement were awarded the Silver Medal of Honor, while the whole team of firefighters and EMS personnel were awarded the Fire Unit citation.
Additionally, the Emergency Medical Company members were also awarded an additional EMS Unit citation for the saving of a life of a man on Baylis Place in Lynbrook on April 25, 2021, just after 3 a.m.
Lynbrook firefighters and EMS personnel responded to a call and found a man in cardiac arrest. Assistant Chiefs Kelly, Bien and Ambrosio were first on the scene with Lynbrook police officers. Ambrosio and Kelly immediately began CPR and rescue breaths. They were then relieved by Germain, EMT/Lieut. Samantha Dominguez and firefighter April Swanson, who continued with the CPR.
The victim received eight shocks delivered from an AED by the members. The CPR continued in the ambulance while the resident was transported to Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital, where he eventually regained a heartbeat.
A member of the family later communicated to the department that the victim was recovering and said if it was not for the quick response and the early CPR and shocks, their family member would not have been saved.
For its efforts, the Lynbrook Fire Department was also presented with an EMS Unit citation.
“The residents of Lynbrook should be proud to know that their volunteer firefighters and EMTs go beyond the call of duty every time they are called out for an emergency,” Kelly said. “ It’s great that the County Fire Commission recognizes our members for their life-saving efforts.”