As reported by The Hartford Courant, July 28, 2006.

Their Bravery and Skill

By Grace Merritt

FARMINGTON -- From the UConn Health Center firefighters who revived a bus driver at the Avon Mountain crash to the UConn police officer who rescued an elderly woman from a burning building in Waterbury, scores of heroes were praised during an awards ceremony held by their union Thursday at the Farmington Club.

The festivities, put on by Protective Services Employees Coalition, honored more than 30 firefighters, cops and public safety professionals, a large number because the union hadn't held an awards ceremony in about 10 years.

The union, which represents public university and community college police departments, firefighters at state agencies and several other state departments, honored those who saved lives, often putting their own lives in harm's way.

Such was the case with University of Connecticut police Officer Darrell C. Dublin, of the Waterbury campus, who rescued a badly burned elderly woman from a third-floor fire just off campus.

Also honored for their bravery at the Avon Mountain crash a year ago were UConn Health Center firefighters Thomas J. Clynch and Victor Morrone, who were among the first to respond after an out-of-control dump truck hurtled down Avon Mountain and crashed into waiting traffic, killing four and injuring 11.

The pair revived a bus driver who was having a heart attack and comforted another driver trapped in a car during a prolonged extrication. Morrone also rescued another man trapped in a vehicle, putting himself between the man and the fire to protect him from the heat and flames. That victim, Michael Cummings, attended the ceremony and handed Morrone the award as the crowd of about 250 rose to its feet.

Also honored were other UConn health center firefighters and Robert Turkington, a paramedic student on a ride-along with Morrone when the call came in. Turkington, who now works for the Manchester Fire Department, was given a civilian award for using his newfound paramedic skills at the crash scene.

Other awards were given to UConn police Officer Peter W. Meshanic and firefighters Christine Chaulk-Snow and Scott Ellis, who waded into the UConn wastewater treatment facility to rescue a unconscious student who had climbed two fences and then fell into the sewage.

"You don't have time to think about whether you want to go in. You just do it. It's our job, " Chaulk-Snow said before the ceremony. She has since retired and Ellis has taken a new job with the Thompsonville Fire Department in Enfield.

UConn Firefighter Scott E. McDonald was honored for helping a police officer trapped under and struggling with a large, drunken man he was trying to arrest. Other firefighters were praised for their daring in climbing the roof of a burning apartment complex in Storrs and cutting a hole in the roof to help quell the blaze.

A state Department of Motor Vehicles inspector, Richard J. Sabonis, was recognized for his quick actions that stopped a motorist's repeated suicide attempts. Sabonis was administering a routine school bus operator exam when he noticed smoke pouring out of a car on the side of the road. The man inside the car had a burning rag and a two-gallon can of gasoline. Sabonis interrupted the suicide attempt and later blocked a second attempt when the man tried to cut his throat with a large knife.

Two other UConn police officers, Paul F. Osella and Dawn M. Tomalonis, were commended for searching for and rescuing a screaming, intoxicated woman in a stream in the woods in the middle of winter. Doctors later estimated that another 10 to 20 minutes of exposure would have killed the woman.

The union represents about 900 members in 63 different job titles, including public university and community college police departments, the State Department of Motor Vehicles, the state Department of Environmental Protection, Liquor Control, the Department of Special Revenue. It plans to reinstitute the awards ceremony as a regular event every other year.