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Firefighter awarded top Nassau medal for valor

Last spring, Lawrence-Cedarhurst firefighter Andrew Helicher saw a call on his beeper for a fire alarm on Court Street: It was his next-door neighbor's house.

Before anyone else arrived, and with no protective gear, Helicher went into the smoke-filled house and dragged an unconscious woman down the staircase to safety. She had severe burns to her respiratory tract and face, and smoke inhalation, but survived.

Helicher received the Gold Medal of Valor from the Nassau Fire Commission Wednesday night, the only person so honored at the annual awards ceremony at the State Supreme Court building in Mineola. The medal recognizes acts of extraordinary personal risk.

Chief Michael Sasso received a bronze medal for finding and rescuing another couple in the same home. The entire fire department received a unit citation.

The Civilian Award was given to Sal Giallombardo of Rockville Centre. He and his wife were waiting at a red light on Lakeview Avenue when he noticed fire shooting out of a third-floor window of a house. Giallombardo banged on the door to alert the residents. When one told him a person was still upstairs, Giallombardo ran up the stairs and got the young man out.

Silver medals went to Assistant Chief John H. Busching of Rockville Centre for saving a disabled woman from a third-floor fire and to Assistant Chief Michael Capoziello from Elmont for rescuing a woman in a wheelchair who was trapped in a burning house. Elmont firefighters Asmar Jones and Lt. Kevin Brown received Bronze medals for the same incident.

Bronze medals also went to Port Washington firefighters Lt. Justin Ryan, Alex Mott, Daniel Buettner and Jordan Sichel; firefighters Pat Carney, Connor Geraghty and Doug Scheeler from Hempstead; Elmont firefighters Christian Franzino and John Lukas; and Capt. Anthony Rivelli of Lawrence-Cedarhurst.

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