Jeannette fire, EMT and police honored with awards
Jeannette City Fire Chief Joe Matijevic presented awards to six firefighters, two police officers and six EMS personnel who have performed life-saving actions in the city.
“All of our award winners tonight are people who, without warning, faced a risk and responded with courage, intelligence and instinctive reflex to do the right thing,” said Matijevic.
Firefighter James Swartz was presented a Purple Heart by Thomas Ondo, junior vice commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Pennsylvania.
Firefighter Randy Gelder and police Cpl. Jeff Stahl were honored for their work during the Mason Gelder Funeral Home fire. The two men put themselves at risk to rescue a coffin containing human remains. The men received the Medal of Valor for going above and beyond the call of duty.
Swartz, fire Lt. Rich Ault, paramedic Greg Bertinelli, EMT Brandon Stape, EMT Randy Highlands, EMT Amanda Cafasso, EMT firefighter Ryan Highlands and EMT firefighter Robert Scott were honored for their efforts in a February 2012 fire on Chestnut Street.
During the fire department's attack of the blaze, Swartz was gearing up to enter the fire when a window was blown out of the structure. A piece of the glass hit the back of his neck, coming within a centimeter of his carotid artery. Ault was the first to assist Swartz and helped to control the bleeding. Swartz care was taken over at that time by Jeannette EMS personnel. These men and women earned the Medal of Courage for “their effort while at great personal risk having been instrumental in rescuing and saving another person,” Matijevic said.
Fire Lt. Tony Kottelich, Highlands, fire Lt. James Zitkovich, Mayor Robert Carter, firefighter Jared Laskey, Scott and police Sgt. Jose Gonzales were honored for their actions in a March 2012 fire on Lowry Avenue. Kottelich and Highlands made the initial entry to the property and fell through a hole in the floor into the basement, which was heavily involved with fire. While rescuing the men, Zitkovich had to extinguish a flame that was closing in on Highlands as he exited the basement on a ladder.
“All of these fine men put their own lives at risk by not wearing their full protective clothing, putting themselves in harm's way and taking the risk of falling into the property's basement themselves,” Matijevic said.
They all earned the Medal of Valor, the highest individual award given to a firefighter for life-saving actions. Kottelich and Highlands also received Medals of Courage for performing their duty and showing initiative and capability.
Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-838-5154.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- The real Captain Phillips brings story of piracy to St. Vincent College
- Linebacker Harrison coming along slowly since return to Steelers
- Foundation arranges free maid service for women with cancer
- Komen acceptance of drilling-linked money raises ire
- No. 4 Highlands wraps up perfect regular season
- Steelers notebook: Shazier returns just in time
- Penguins notebook: Carcillo has no hard feelings after failing to make roster
- Penn Avenue site tops group’s preservation list
- Police investigate 2 shootings in Washington County, one of them fatal
- America’s manufacturing comeback
- Predators winger Neal caught ‘blindsided’ by trade from Penguins