Pittsburgh paramedics honored for Tree of Life heroics | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh paramedics honored for Tree of Life heroics

Megan Guza
Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
District Chief Justin Sypolt, of the Pittsburgh EMS, shakes hands with city and Public Safety officials after receiving a commendation at the EMS Training Division in the Strip District on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Sypolt and more than a dozen others were honored for their actions during the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue.
Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh paramedic Romanyne Bendig shakes hands with EMS medical director Dr. Ronald Roth during a ceremony at the EMS Training Division in the Strip District on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Bendig and more than a dozen others were honored for their actions during the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue.

City and Public Safety officials honored more than a dozen EMS members for their life-saving actions during the Tree of Life synagogue mass shooting last year.

The death toll could have been higher, Mayor Bill Peduto said, if not for their actions on Oct. 27.

“There is no doubt that you put your own lives at risk in order to save lives,” he said.

The attack on the Squirrel Hill synagogue is the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the country’s history. Eleven people were killed.

“It’s one of the darkest hours our city has ever had to go through,” Peduto said. “Because of you, there were rays of light that came out of that darkness.”

Dr. Ronald Roth, medical director for Pittsburgh EMS, grew up attending the synagogue. He became emotional as he thanked the paramedics.

“I remember the day, standing at Solway and Murray under cover behind the ambulance there … why many of you were running toward the incident,” Roth said. “I thought to myself, ‘Those are some of the bravest people I know,’ going into the fire while I was relatively safe behind the ambulance.

“I am honored to be your medical director,” he continued, choking up. “Thank you for what you did.”

Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told the men and women that it takes more than just training to work together in such a situation.

“The split-second decision you have to make to adapt to the situation – that really relies on your skills and your education and your experience … and what you’ve got through prior to be able to act accordingly and, as we all know, save lives on that day,” he said.

Those who received awards are:

  • Aaron Byrne
  • Steve Whitlock
  • Joshua Slagel
  • Matt Brantner
  • Romanyne Bendig
  • Robert Johnston
  • Mark Tomassi
  • Eric Barazotto
  • Shawn Eigenbrode
  • Lawrence Turner
  • Tony Shrader
  • Dan Sprouse
  • Duane Lewis
  • Judy Sobeck
  • Ed Carlino
  • Jeff Tremel
  • Mark Pinchalk
  • Raymond Everitt
  • Richard Linn
  • Justin Sypolt
  • Mark Tomassi

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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