Several Manchester Township Police Officers, including the four who saved the life of a retired New Jersey State Trooper, were recognized for their heroic and selfless acts during the Annual Departmental Awards Ceremony held in the Municipal Complex Courtroom on Wednesday, December 14, 2016.
Among the honorees were Sgt. Robert Sharry, Ptl. Michael Guarino, Ptl. Kyle Rickvalsky, and Ptl. Michael Steffen, who received the Life Saving Award for braving a severe snow storm last January to rescue retired NJSP Trooper Brian Malast from a medical emergency in his Whiting home. Trooper Malast was a guest of honor at the awards ceremony, where he was able to reunite with the officers who saved his life.
“Our officers make a positive impact on our community each day through their many commendable and courageous acts. This ceremony is to celebrate those accomplishments that go above and beyond, such as the efforts of these four officers and all of the other honorees here today,” said Chief Lisa Parker.
In January of this year, the above-mentioned officers responded to the home of Trooper Malast, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a 2005 on-duty car crash, to find him unresponsive and not breathing. While at the residence, Sgt. Sharry, a trained EMT, discovered that Malast’s breathing tube was disconnected and that he was not getting any oxygen. Sgt. Sharry, knowing how to react because of his training, quickly sprang into action and corrected the problem. Once the breathing tube was reattached, he immediately began CPR. Upon the arrival of Quality Medical Transport, Patrolmen Guarino, Rickvalsky, and Steffen assisted by shoveling a pathway through the deep snow and maneuvered much needed first aid equipment into the residence from the ambulance.
Collectively, these officers, with the assistance of the Whiting Volunteer Fire Company and Quality Medical Transport, secured Trooper Malast in a Reeves stretcher, carried him down a flight of stairs and outside through the snow to the ambulance all while continually performing CPR. Because no paramedics were available to respond to the residence, Ptl. Guarino drove the ambulance to Community Medical Center so that the two members of Quality Medical Transport could continue medical treatment in the back of the ambulance. The prompt and alert actions of these officers, along with the collaborative efforts of the Whiting Volunteer Fire Company and Quality Medical Transport EMT’s, resulted in the saving of Trooper Malast’s life, who eventually made a full recovery.
At the end of the ceremony, which saw the presentation of many awards, Mayor Kenneth Palmer offered closing remarks. In doing so, he recounted how he is frequently approached by residents who want to tell him about the many positive impacts that Manchester Township Police officers have on their lives. “Where ever I go, I hear positive comments about our Police Department. I’m very proud to have you all serve our community. As a resident, and on behalf of the Township Council, I thank you all very much,” said Mayor Palmer.
Chief Parker and the entire Command Staff would like to thank all who attended this special event, including Township officials and employees, Police Chaplains James Davis and Robert Clark, and the friends and family members of those honored. Additionally, the Command Staff was proud to present the following awards:
Receiving the ‘Civilian Service Award’ were Mrs. Dana Cerullo and Mrs. Melissa Nazario for assisting in the development of the “Not Even Once” opiate awareness program curriculum which is taught to students at Manchester Township High School and resident, Richard T. Boehm, for his assistance in extinguishing a kitchen fire in his neighbor’s house.
Receiving the ‘Firearms Distinguished Expert’ award were Detectives Richard Jupinka and Robert Maccaquano for attaining perfect scores on their last three firearms qualifications.
Receiving the ‘Chief’s Recognition Award’ for their sustained efforts in the area of traffic enforcement and criminal law enforcement were Ptl. Ian Bole, Ptl. Joseph Fastige and Ptl. Keith Craig.
Receiving ‘Unit Citations’ were Ptl. Anthony Iliadis for becoming a Field Training Officer and Ptl. Joseph Reilly for also becoming a Field Training Officer as well as for serving as a Physical Training Instructor at the Ocean County Police Academy.
Receiving the ‘Educational Achievement Award’ were Chief Lisa Parker, Capt. Todd Malland, Lt. Robert Dolan, Lt. Vincent Manco, Lt. James Sharkey, Sgt. Michael Leming, Sgt. Bryan Vidovich, Sgt. Theodore Cooke, Sgt. Richard Mazza, Sgt. Salvatore Ventre, Sgt. Charles Brooks, Sgt. Joseph Hankins, Sgt. Robert Sharry, Sgt. Albert Vega, and Dsg. Christopher Hemhauser for their successful completion of the prestigious 14-week NJ State Association of Chiefs of Police Command & Leadership Academy. Also receiving the award was Ptl. Christopher Cerullo for receiving his Master’s Degree.
Receiving the ‘Honorable Service Award’ were Ptl. Jason Wiener, Ptl. Patrick Cervenak, Det. Adam Emmons, Ptl. Christopher Cerullo, Ptl. Michael Steffen for their credible acts in the line of duty which demonstrated initiative and accomplishment.
Receiving the ‘Drug Enforcement & Seizure Award’ were Ptl. Brian Collins and Ptl. Matthew Juralewicz for their diligent and thorough efforts in uncovering and dismantling a rolling methamphetamine laboratory in Pine Lake Park.
Receiving the ‘Exceptional Duty Award’ was Ptl. Anthony Iliadis for this diligence and tenacity during the course of a motor vehicle stop which resulted in the arrest of three wanted men as well as the seizure of loaded .357 handgun.
Receiving the ‘Chief’s Award’ were Det. Adam Emmons, Ptl. Christopher Cerullo, Ptl. Joseph Fastige and Ptl. Keith Craig for their development and implementation of the “Not Even Once” opiate awareness program taught to Manchester Township High School Students.
Receiving the ‘Wounded in Combat Award’ was Sgt. Joseph Hankins for his actions in combating a suicidal armed assailant who attacked and cut him with an 8” pair of scissors.
Receiving the ‘Combat Cross Award’ was Ptl. Charles Gatnarek for his individual act of heroism during an incident in which there was an imminent threat to the life of both other officers and civilians while in combat with an armed adversary.