The Western Reserve Joint Fire District initiated a new program to present lifesaving awards at the annual Christmas party, which was held last week.
Awards were given to firefighters who went above and beyond in their task to save the lives of others.
''We have received state awards, but in my 23 years with the department, this is the first time we have given out local awards,'' said Lt. Tony Tucci.
Photo special to the Town Crier
Western Reserve Joint Fire District presented Life Saving Awards to firefighters and EMT’s for their life-saving rescue at a vehicle crash on U.S. 224 in April. Pictured from left are: firefighter Jake Zimmerman; fire fighter/EMT Bob Clement; assistant chief Tony Sferra; firefighter and EMT Lt. Tony Tucci; and firefighter and paramedic Shaun Serich.
Tony, along with his wife and fellow firefighter and emergency medical technician Suzanne Tucci, received one of the awards this year for their life-saving efforts.
In June, Tony and Suzanne were first to respond to a medical emergency on New Castle Road. Anthony Mediate had let out a scream and slumped over during lunch at home. Mediate's wife, Anita, dialed 911 and the Tucci's arrived on the scene.
Mediate was recovering from heart surgery and had suffered a ruptured bypass graft aneurysm. He was unconscious and not breathing when the Tuccis performed CPR until the ambulance arrived.
''My husband spent 10 days in the hospital and another week in a nursing home,'' said Anita Mediate. ''I was just amazed that fire fighters got to our home so quickly and was able to save my husband.''
Suzanne Tucci, who worked as a nurse for 42 years, said the key is keeping a cool head.
''These are our neighbors and people we went to school with,'' Suzanne Tucci said. ''When there is an emergency, we have to keep it together and help the person.''
Last week Suzanne and Tony Tucci were visited at the main station in Poland Village by the Mediates. Suzanne said it was the first time they have seen Anthony Mediate since the rescue.
Poland Fire Chief Chip Comstock said the lifesaving award is for a rescue that ends with the person returning. He said sometimes a person goes into the hospital and doesn't make it.
''They have to return home and continue their lives to qualify for this award,'' he said.
The second lifesaving award was presented to firefighters and EMTs John Gulgas, Dan Wright, and Gio Melia. Gulgas, Wright and Melia responded to Baird Mitchell Field in June during a semi-pro football game after woman had passed out at the concession stand. She was revived by the three responders.
A third life-saving award was given to fire fighters and EMTs Tony Tucci, Kyle Conklin, Bob Clement, Jake Zimmerman, Shaun Serich and Tony Sferra for their response to a head-on collision on U.S. 224 in April.
The crash occurred when a motorist passed passed several vehicles in the on-coming lane and struck a vehicle head-on traveling nearly 100 miles per hour. One of the victims was trapped in her vehicle and asked Conklin to give her communion.
The lady was trapped in her vehicle and in bad shape.
The Poland rescue crew sprang into action to begin an extraction. The woman who was trapped was getting very excited and felt she wasn't going to make it. She asked Conklin to give her communion right there in the car.
''I am not a priest,'' Conklin said. ''But I gave her communion right there in the car and it really helped calm her down. She said she was at peace until we got her out.''
The woman, who chose not to be identified, survived the crash and wrote a letter to the fire fighters who responded to the accident.
''Kyle Conklin is a hero in the true sense of the word, '' the woman wrote. ''He was my Guardian Angel that day and I will never forget him.''
Tony Tucci said Conklin's actions that day prevented her from going into shock.
Also receiving the Personal Unit Award for the U.S. 224 crash were fire fighters John Walsh, Dan Farinelli, Frank Perrotta, John Gulgas and Vince Caggiano.
In addition to the lifesaving awards, a Personal Achievement Award was given to fire fighters Dan Wright, Bob Sanchez, John Gulgas, and Bill O'Hara.
''This award is for fire fighters who have gone above and beyond what is expected throughout the year,'' said Tony Tucci.
Individual awards were given to the firefighter and paramedic Al Rivalsky for EMS Provider of the Year and to Gio Melia for Firefighter of the Year.
''We have close to 80 volunteers at three stations,'' said Fire Chief Anthony Sferra. ''We thought it was time for our people to be honored for going above and beyond.''
Both Sferra and Comstock said they hope to continue the local Poland awards program in the future.