The 200 Club of Morris County recognized Heroic Actions of First Responders at recent Annual Valor and Meritorious Awards Ceremony

Denville Police’s Ambrose, Welsch, Tucker, Wagner, McCarter, Frawley, Yeager Recognized

by Janet Rapisardi

President Bill Lockwood of The 200 Club of Morris County recognized first responders from Morris County EMS, Fire, Police and State Police having gone above and beyond the call of duty to save and protect Morris county citizens at the club’s recent Annual Celebratory Awards evening at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany. President Lockwood drew an analogy of the above responders to a tight-knit family that come together when it matters most. “Morris County is one of the safest, because of all the first responders sitting here today”. President Lockwood stated he had the highest regard for Morris County first responders and the heroic risks they take every day for the protection of all the citizens of Morris County; “There’s much work to be done to get our message out”, he said, in support of Morris County’s first responders through The 200 Club of Morris County.

Master of Ceremonies, Morris County Sheriff James Gannon began the awardee recognition by addressing the attending 400 members of the public. He described the heroic and ‘selfless’ efforts of public safety responders, detailing five separate life-saving incidents which included two dangerous ice rescues (Denville, Kinnelon), one fiery motor vehicle collision (Rockaway Township), a split-second command decision that has saved and changed a life forever(Chatham/Madison P.D.), and an ”MCI”, Major Casualty Incident (Mt. Olive), involving hundreds of coordinated first responders from multiple agencies, including hospital medical personnel and multiple town agencies. It is an,” Honorable and difficult job faced by all first responders” Gannon shared, “..who daily experience the added stress of an ever-changing world in terrorism.” “We salute you, the American Hero…acting with courage, honor and self-sacrifice. God Bless you all.”

Almost drowning in ice water and 100 yards from shore.

At Denville P.D. on February 15, 2018, two frantic 911 calls were received back-to-back. The first report; a female person and a dog had fallen through the ice in Cedar Lake. The second: a male person attempted rescue and became the second victim trapped in the frigid water. All were in distress, far from shore, and in danger of succumbing to hypothermia. Denville Fire and Rescue Squads were dispatched.

The man was approximately 40 yards off-shore in the water and the female victim and the dog were 100 yards off shore, almost fully submerged. Sergeant Bruce McCarter and Officers Shawn Frawley and Michael Ambrose began rescue immediately, wearing their Ice Rescue Suits. Sergeant McCarter and Officer Ambrose rescued the man first. Officer Frawley began rescue to the female and dog, while Sergeant McCarter and Officer Ambrose returned to assist him.

Officer Shawn Yeager remained on shore to secure rescue ropes and was joined by Sergeant Scott Welsch and Captain Jeffrey Tucker on land, with Chief Christopher Wagner (Ret. 01-2019) who entered the water rescue in his Ice Rescue Suit. The officers were in a race against time; they had been in the icy water for over 12 minutes. Both victims and dog were rescued, treated and released in good health. Note: at less than 15 minutes in icy water, a person suffers hypothermia, exhaustion and/or unconsciousness.

Captain Jeffrey Tucker, representing the group on behalf of Chief Frank Perna, thanked The 200 Club of Morris County for recognizing the immediate and life-threatening actions of the team, and spoke about being a public servant. He addressed and thanked those in the audience, adding, “To the public servants and first responders – Thank You!”

President of the Morris County Police Chiefs Association, Butler Police Department Chief Ciro Chimento quoted Nelson Mandela by saying, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the triumph over fear.” “Given the actions of the Denville officers on that day, certainly their actions are the definition of what bravery and courage truly are; a testament of teamwork without hesitation which undoubtedly saved these lives”.

*Note: Sergeant Scott Welsh now holds the rank of Lieutenant; Lieutenant Jeffrey Tucker now holds the rank of Captain, and Chief Chris Wagner has since retired.

Father Lance Reis of St. Virgil’s Church gave the Benediction: “(God) Give these first responders the strength so that you will be honored. Watch over all the men and women who so generously devote themselves to helping others. Grant them courage, wisdom, strength and compassion.”

Since 1971, the non-profit mission of The 200 Club of Morris County is to support Morris County’s first responders through scholarship funding and financial support for grieving family members of public safety heroes who lose their lives while in the line of duty. President Bill Lockwood quoted Martin Luther King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

Awards Co-Chairs Janet Rapisardi and Ron Barnett thank the public safety Heroes of our communities, who courageously put their lives at risk to guarantee the safety of those residing or traveling in Morris County. Through memberships and generous personal and corporate donations and sponsorships, the 200 Club of Morris County has collected more than $5 million to date for this worthy cause. Membership Co-Chair Jim Rizzo invites you to our next “New Member event” with an anticipated date of August. For annual membership, ad journal advertising or donations, Call Club Administrator Lori Richmond today at 973-630-7933 or and use code 08JJR19 for a special membership advantage.

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