The New Jersey Emergency Medical Services Council in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Office of Emergency Medical Services recently held its annual EMS Awards Dinner in Atlantic City. Two Emergency Medical Technicians won the “Outstanding Call of the Year” category for saving a girl that was abducted from New York City
I wrote about this incident when it happened in November of 2012, when EMT’s Cristiana Oliveira and Bruno Castanheira were dispatched to a call in the Ironbound section of Newark. The pair was dispatched to Penn Station for a 56 year old male who was complaining of chest pain and a headache. When they arrived on the scene, they were met by a 46 year old woman and a 6 year old child that was with the patient. When assessing the patient and during the transport to Saint Michael’s Emergency Room, (ER) both EMT’S sensed that something was not right with the situation. The patient seemed nervous and uneasy and claimed that he did not want anyone to know where he was being treated.
While at the ER, EMT Oliveira began the process of obtaining information for the patient chart and quickly noticed discrepancies in the stories from the woman and child and contacted the New Jersey Transit Police who began an investigation. That investigation concluded that the child had been abducted earlier that afternoon from the Bronx in NY.
Their actions went above and beyond the call of duty and they were selected by the committee to be honored with the coveted award which is a very competitive category given the nature of the actions of all those who were nominated. When it comes to being nominated for these state awards, there are no losers.
Despite being called hero’s Oliveira and Castanheira stated they were honored to receive the award but both shrugged off at being called a hero.
Oliveira stated “I don’t feel like a hero, I followed my gut feeling. My partner thought I was crazy, but in the end we saved a life. It feels good to be recognized, EMS actions usually go unnoticed so it was very nice to be recognized by my peers. “
Castanheira said “I don't feel like I am a hero, I was doing my daily job and helping the community. I do feel honored in receiving the award and being recognized by my fellow peers.”
Oliveira and Castanheira epitomize what serving the public is all about. Their professionalism and dedication is just one example of what happens on a daily basis across the state by EMT’s who get paid very little for the service they provide in our states toughest cities.
They may not think of themselves as heroes but I am betting there is a young girl and a reunited family who feel differently about that.