FDNY Celebrates Heroes During Medal Day

SI Advance - June 22, 2011

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Several Staten Island firefighters and one EMT who committed acts of selfless bravery were among the honorees during the department's annual Medal Day earlier this month.

The FDNY celebrated the heroism of its members during Medal Day 2011, which took place at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on June 8.

Firefighter Brian T. Mitchell, of Ladder Co. 122, received the Chief John J. McElligot Medal and the Firefighters Fitzpatrick and Frisby Award for rescuing a bedridden 78-year-old woman from her home in Park Slope last June.

Mitchell, who resides on the Island with his wife, Laura, was appointed to the FDNY on March 8, 2005.

Emergency medical technician Patrick M. Creeden of Station 38 and two paramedics was awarded the Lt. Kirby McElhearn Medal, after rescuing a 47-year-old woman who was trapped between two elevator doors last Christmas Day.

Firefighter Stephen J. Cunningham of Ladder 148, Brooklyn, was awarded the Shelly Rotham Memorial Medal for rescuing an unconscious victim in the middle of the night from an apartment fire last July.

On July 20, 2010, after walking through a third-floor burning apartment without a charged hose-line, and his extinguisher empty, Cunningham found an unconscious victim face down. He dragged the victim to safety, but continued to make sure there were no other victims.

"Even though he was bordering on exhaustion and had received a puncture wound through his glove, he continued to search for additional victims," the FDNY reported.

Stephen Cunningham resides on Staten Island and has been a firefighter since 2005.

Firefighter Robert A. Diaz, Ladder 166 was awarded the Thomas E. Crimmins Medal for rescuing an 11-year-old boy he found in the closet of a burning apartment.

On February 16th, 2010 in the vicinity of West 24th street, the boy was found under a pile of clothing in a closet on the 15th floor. During his search of the scene, Robert Diaz found a medical oxygen nebulizing machine an followed the oxygen line to the closet.

"Diaz followed a medical oxygen line to a closet, where he encountered piles of clothes and pillows. At the bottom of this pile, he discovered a young boy," the FDNY reported. "Diaz carried the 11 year old boy to the floor below the fire, providing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation en route."

He has been fighting fires for six years and resides on Staten Island with his wife, Jeanine.

Lieutenant Edward J. Gonzalez of Ladder 161 was the recipient of the Thomas A. Kenny Memorial Medal, for leading a team that rescued a total of three victims from a burning building.

On August 27, 2010 at 2686 Colby Ct., on the fifth floor, the first victim was found and moved to safety by a member of the team. Gonzalez found the second victim, an 80 year old woman.

"As he passed them [the team of two other firefighters] with the victim his [Gonzalez] mask was dislodged," the FDNY reported. "Lieutenant Gonzalez and his team returned to the rear bedroom and removed the [third] victim from the apartment and down to the fourth floor. During this process, the lieutenant lost his balance and fell on the stairs. He was removed to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation and an injured elbow."

Gonzalez resides on the Island with his wife Cindy and their four children. He was appointed to the FDNY on July 5, 1988.

Firefighter Gregory Hansen of Ladder 153 was awarded the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums Medal for rescuing a 36-year-old man during an apartment fire on Dec. 10, 2010 in Brooklyn and carrying a 56-year-old man, who had fallen unconscious, to safety.

Hansen is a nine-year veteran of the FDNY and resides on the Island with his wife, America.

The Island firefighters received their awards alongside Firefighter Peter Demontreux, assigned to Brooklyn's Ladder Co. 132, and Firefighter Anthony Cavalieri of Rescue Co. 5 in Concord, who were featured in the Advance earlier this month. Demontreux was awarded the FDNY's James Gordon Bennett Medal during the department's annual Medal Day Ceremonies, for rescuing a man from a room engulfed in flames. He suffered extensive burns on his face and back during the rescue last August.

Cavalieri was presented with the Commissioner Edward Thompson Medal during the department's annual Medal Day Ceremonies when he learned via radio that one family member was still missing, during a fire in a Concord home.

As he ascended the stairs to the second floor, he encountered heavy smoke and high heat. He crawled down a hallway to a bedroom where he discovered a 68-year-old woman unconscious and not breathing. Cavalieri shielded her with his body and brought her down the stairs.