When you see a Malverne police officer, volunteer firefighter or ambulance corps member around the neighborhood, you may not realize that "these men and women are willingly putting their life on the line, 24/7," Anthony Marino told residents gathered at the Wednesday for Law and Order Night.
"At anytime they may be called to a dangerous, life-threatening situation and as we saw on 9/11, they run toward the danger, not away from it," said Marino, who chaired the annual event, which recognizes the village's local heroes.
Several community members including veterans, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, Boy Scouts and their families, as well as local officials, came together on Feb. 29 to watch four of Malverne's finest receive awards.
The 's 2012 award went to Nick Morfogen, a 32-year volunteer firefighter and life member. Morfogen could not attend the event as he was recovering from surgery, but Malverne Fire Chief Daniel Morgan spoke a few words about his service to the community. In addition to fighting fires, Morfogen has dedicated his time to several committees, served on the fire council for 10 years and taught local kids about fire safety.
Malverne Police Reserve Chief Charles Kaufman presented his agency's 2012 award to Officer Eric Jaworowski. Jaworowski joined the Malverne Police Reserve in June 2009 and completed his training the following January.
"He is very knowledgeable, dedicated and always professional," Chief Kaufman said. "In the short time he has been a member of the unit he has...received excellent service commendation," volunteering his time to work at night court and special events.
Vice President Bill Malone announced that Luis Lora had been named MVAC's Emergency Medical Technician of the Year. Since joining MVAC in late 2009, Lora, has become one of its most active members. In 2010, he responded to 180 cases and more than doubled that number in 2011. That same year, he put in more than 1,000 assigned hours, becoming the ninth member in the Corps' history to achieve this in a single year, and earned a citation for putting in one of the highest percentage of calls between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Lora, who has lived in Malverne for 13-years, said, "I always wanted to be an active member and certain things opened up in my life, so I was able to. I'm very proud to serve."
Chief John Aresta bestowed his agency's award to Officer Robert Donovan and enthralled the audience with a story about how Donovan saved the life of woman who was choking at a Garden City restaurant in Garden City in December 2011.
Shortly after Donovan had sat down to dinner at the Uptown Grille on Dec. 9 with his wife, he heard a commotion and saw that a woman at a nearby table was in distress, Aresta explained.
"Officer Donovan could see the woman had her hands around her throat and a frantic expression on her face," Aresta said. "He asked her if she could breath, and she shook her head, 'No.'"
He positioned himself around her to perform the Heimlich maneuver, but "due to the woman's small stature, Officer Donovan's large stature, and her weakened state, she began slumping over," Aresta explained. His first attempt was unsuccessful, but with the woman turning blue and time running out, he acted fast.
"He straightened her up again, pressed her body against his hip to get better leverage...and with a little more force and better positioning, he was successful," Aresta said. The item that had blocked her airway became dislodged, she started breathing again and the whole restaurant applauded.
Aresta said Donovan's actions not only earned him a free meal, courtesy of the restaurant's owner, that night and this year's Law and Order award for the Malverne Police, but his 6-year-old daughter told him he secured a spot on Santa's good list too.
During the night, the American Legion also recognized three residents who proudly fly an American flag outside their homes: Robert Croce, Terrance McGoldrick and Gregg Turrel.
They also presented a citation to Boy Scout Ryan Potter, from Troop 109. Each year the American Legion Post 44 sponsors one Boy Scout and one Girl Scout to attend a state leadership program held during the summer of their junior year. This past year, they selected Megan Taylor Piccirillo for the Girls State program and Potter for Boys. Piccirillo was unable to attend Law and Order Night, but Potter, a Malverne resident and senior at Valley Stream North High School, shared his experience at Boys State this past summer.
"From the time I arrived, I realized this was an experience I would never forget," he said. "I learned about our government, how it works and was even elected senator of my group. It taught me discipline and gave man idea of military life."
Potter is currently a junior member of the Malverne Volunteer Fire Department and will be attending Nassau Community College in the fall. Perhaps, one day in the future he'll be attending Law and Order Night wearing a different uniform.