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Conn. state police recruits awarded for saving life of fellow recruit suffering medical emergency at academy

The recruits performed lifesaving procedures, alerted academy staff, called 911, notified the recruit’s family and helped to provide a police escort to the hospital

By Justin Muszynski
Hartford Courant

MERIDEN, Conn. — Seven Connecticut State Police recruits sworn in Thursday were awarded medals at their graduation ceremony from the police academy for saving a fellow recruit’s life during their training over the summer. Two instructors were also awarded medals.

State police said it is believed to be the first time new state police trooper recruits received such an honor at their graduation ceremony, which took place at Central Connecticut State University and was attended by Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Ronnell A. Higgins, commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and Interim Col. Daniel Loughman, commander of the Connecticut State Police.

According to state police, on Aug. 18 during the early morning hours, a female recruit suffered a medical emergency at the overnight academy. Two of her roommates sprang into action and began rendering her medical care before other recruits, some with extensive medical training, arrived and started helping.

“The rapid response of these seven recruits and their assistance with arriving EMS is commendable as they were only on Week 9 of the 28-week training academy,” state police said in a statement Thursday.

State police said staff at the academy and the recruits then called for an ambulance to take the victim to the Midstate Medical Center in Meriden and contacted her family.

“Doctors and staff at Midstate quickly determined that the recruit in medical distress required urgent treatment from a facility with a higher level of care.” state police said. “However, severe thunderstorms prevented transport by helicopter.”

Facing poor weather and rush hour traffic, staff at the academy took it upon themselves to clear a path for an ambulance and escort it using lights and sirens to Yale New Haven Hospital.

The recruit was rushed into an operating room once she arrived at the hospital, where she received surgery to manage her trauma, according to state police. State police did not disclose the exact nature of the medical emergency, only saying that it was life-threatening.

“Both the Yale medical team and the recruit’s family directly attributed the patient’s survival to the immediate response of academy staff and recruits,” state police said. “At a time of crisis, the support demonstrated by the staff and recruits during and after the incident displayed professionalism and care that went above and beyond expectations.”

The seven recruits who received a Medal for Lifesaving Thursday include the following trooper trainees: Gunner Nunn, Julia Gettings, Justin Trzaski, Kelly Mazza, Lina Vivo, Nicholas Jamaitus and Donnell Niles. The two academy instructors who also received a medal were Trooper First Class Donald Dunning and Sgt. Jason St. John.

In addition to the seven recruits who received a medal, 25 other new recruits graduated Thursday as part of the 134th Training Troop of the Connecticut State Police Training Academy.

Those who graduated Thursday included Sawyer Alix, Cassio Alvarenga Pena Dias, Mohammed Antra, Eric Bolanis, Brandon Caffrey, Ryan Crawford, Luis De Camps-Moran, Jacob Drechsler, Liam Flanagan, Ryszard Galej, Robert German Lopez, Jr., Jack Goncalves, Jr., Hayden Hurst, Peterson Jacot, John Linares, Megan Lung, John Mccloskey, James Perazzella, Jr., Amiel Perez-Wilson, Nicholas Quinn, Lucas Radziewicz, William Sennett, Jeremy Shepard, Akiel Smith, Jason Trombly, Justin Trzaski and Lina Vivo.

The academy commenced on June 16, 2023, with classes that started in a “blended learning format,” according to state police.

The residential portion of the academy began on July 17, 2023 , and remained in place for the remaining 24 weeks of training. In total, the class completed 28 weeks of training that included more than 1,500 hours of online and in-person classes and hands-on training. The academy included physical conditioning, driving, firearms training, active shooter response, experiential training and other specialized areas of police work.

The 32 members of the class included 28 men and four women. Some recruits are former municipal police officers or correction officers, while others have been trained as firefighters and EMTs, state police said. The youngest recruit was 21 years old and the oldest was 43.

Among the 32 recruits, six have military experience, two have prior law enforcement experience, 10 hold bachelor’s degrees and one holds an advanced degree.

All of the new recruits have been assigned to one of the 11 state police troops located throughout Connecticut.

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