The Meriden community took time out last Saturday to honor local police, firefighters, dispatchers and ambulance personnel for their service throughout the year. Members of the Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary clubs joined local and state officials in presenting the awards during a ceremony at the Meriden Green.
All the awards were well deserved and acknowledge the dedication and professionalism of the city’s first responders.
Fire Marshal Steve Trella was recognized for his 42 years of service. Trella, who started with the Fire Department in September 1978, has been fire marshal for about 20 years and will retire in October.
"It's amazing how quickly it goes by," Trella said. "You don't think about it when you start a career."
Emergency dispatchers Elizbethann Marotti, Censio Ramos, Andrea Lorenzetti, Mark Shackford and Robert Lechowicz were awarded for their smooth and effective response to the April 11 crash of a small plane on the athletic field at Wilcox Technical High School, which knocked out power to much of the city.
They showed extraordinary professionalism and poise while also fielding numerous calls from the public regarding the blackout, said Emergency Communications Director Doree Price, who nominated them for the awards.
Police Detective Kevin Ieraci received the police division award in recognition of his work in the Crime Suppression Unit and for starting a secret Santa program at the city's homeless shelter, Shelter NOW.
The Dan M. Hunter Good Samaritan Award was given to Jaelin Highsmith for donating a part of his liver to a Hamden 19-year-old in need of a transplant. The Meriden resident and Platt High School graduate said he heard about Madison Ricci's story from a friend in a group chat and felt compelled to help.
Emergency medical dispatcher Sarah Esposito, paramedics Stephen Van Dyke and Jarrod Clark and EMT Michael Cafano of Hunter's Ambulance were selected for the medical services division award for their response to a March 24 call about an 81-year-old man who was having a heart attack. Esposito directed family members on what to do until the Meriden Fire Department and a Hunter's EMS team arrived and took over.
All told, these annual awards remind us of that Meriden has a great team of professionals who answer the call, as well as people willing to go beyond the call.