STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Emotions ran high yesterday morning at Borough Hall, as three off-duty Staten Island heroes were honored for their actions in separate incidents over Christmas.
Mary and Robert Stafers broke down and began crying as they came face to face with Firefighter Steven Carl for the first time since Christmas night, when he saved them and their 20-year-old cat, Pyewacket, from their second-floor apartment on Atlantic Avenue in Dongan Hills after faulty tree lights ignited a blaze.
“It was a very emotional moment, getting to meet the man who saved our lives,” said Mrs. Stafers. ” It was wonderful just to have the chance to thank him for his heroic actions.”
In addition to Carl, two more FDNY members were honored at yesterday’s event for their heroics in an incident in Bloomingdale Park, Pleasant Plains, on Christmas Eve.
While on his morning jog, off-duty FDNY Capt. Gregg Hansson went to the aid of a man who’d had an apparent heart attack. He was assisted by an unnamed off-duty nurse and off-duty FDNY EMT Matthew Cook, who was also out jogging.
“Off-duty or not, any trained professional would have done what we at the park did, and come to the aid of those in need,” said Hansson, a 9/11 survivor who also coaches tennis at St. Joseph Hill Academy High School.
“It was very fortunate to have EMT Cook and the nurse helping the elderly man out, as it allowed me to control the situation better as we waited for Engine Co. 164 and the ambulance to arrive.”
The man they rescued remains hospitalized, Hansson said.
The “above and beyond” awards were presented to the three by Borough President James Molinaro, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn) and City Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn).
“I am humbly touched by the fact that all who were rewarded were off-duty,” said Molinaro. “Our public servants here on Staten Island work 24/7, whether they are watching a movie or shopping at their neighborhood supermarket. Knowing that they are always willing to go beyond their call of duty to keep their community safe is really reassuring.”