MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The township committee took time Tuesday night to honor Maplewood’s finest at the Annual Firefighter/EMT Awards.
Captain Joseph Callaghan, 2011 Firefighter of the Year award winner, presented the awards, and spoke of his appreciation for his fellow firefighters.
“When it’s all said and done, we all come home safe,” he said, “and that’s what matters.”
The first award went to retired firefighter and longtime photographer Bob Dlugos. Dlugos received this award as a special recognition for all of the many memories he captured with the Maplewood Fire Department in his photographs.
Firefighter/EMT Alex Colatruglio received a huge ovation from those in attendance for receiving the MFD Medical Service Award. Colatruglio was recognized for saving a patient in cardiac arrest while he was off-duty, and for
performing CPR after learning the ambulance would not be arriving due to staffing issues.
“To perform CPR for that long of a duration is a statement of Alex’s character,” Captain Callaghan said.
Deputy Chief Mike Dinglestedt and Chief Joseph Richardella, both 31-year veterans, received appreciation awards. Dinglestedt was praised for his work with those experiencing tough times.
“He is a source of strength for firefighters and their families who are sick, injured or have passed away,” Callaghan said, “I told my family if something were to happen to me at work, Mike will take care of you.”
Chief Richardella was recognized for his years of service and it was announced that he would be retiring in February 2013.
The ceremony reached a strong point when Maplewood resident Eric Burbank told the story of his son, Ryan. The teenager had an accident in the family's pool on July 1, and it was later learned that had response time not been quick, Ryan could have lost his life. Burbank praised the department for their response time and he also thanked them for giving him peace of mind in a time of chaos.
“My son is alive because of those who answered the call that day, and from the bottom of our hearts, my family and I thank you,” Burbank said.