Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and members of the Town Board recently honored Atlantic Steamer Fire Co. No.1 Firefighter Patrick Graba with a Citation for his heroism and selfless service to our community. Following his shift as a Correction’s Officer with the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, Firefighter Graba was just settling in at home when his pager alerted him to an emergency that required a water rescue in Mill Neck Creek. Firefighter Graba and his fellow first responders reported to the company’s Marine Rescue Facility located at Theodore Roosevelt Park, where they gathered necessary equipment and proceeded to the scene via boat. Upon arrival, they noticed that a man and a woman were trapped in thick mud after getting off their jet ski and could not move due the great suction that is often created in marshy conditions. As Firefighter Graba assessed a course of action to save the victims, he quickly realized the tide was rising and the two victims would be soon be in danger of drowning if not quickly extricated. Due to the shallowness of the water, it was apparent that getting the boat closer to the victims was not an option. Firefighter Graba then devised a plan to return to their Marine Facility and rescue the victims from the shore. At this time, they also requested that the Nassau County Police Department dispatch their helicopter for an aerial assessment of the emergency scene and they were soon joined by the NYPD. This enabled a favorable location to be selected for a land rescue. From land, Firefighter Graba put on special gear and entered the soupy mud while tethered by his fellow firefighters to a nearby tree for stability. He then piggybacked a traditional backboard and a specialty ice rescue backboard enabling him to crawl on the boards in succession on his way out to the victims. After 35 harrowing minutes, Firefighter Graba made it out to the victims, who clung to the boards to keep their heads above the water as the tide rolled in. Firefighter Graba was soon joined by a rescue diver from the NYPD, who put a harness on the female, as she was in greater distress. They then worked collectively to successfully release her from the significant suction of the mud. She and the police diver were then hoisted up to the safety of the helicopter. Firefighter Graba and the male victim were then met by members of the Bayville Fire Department, who had made it to the scene in their Zodiac Boat, which is well suited for rescue in shallow water. With everyone working together, the victim and Firefighter Graba, both exhausted at this point, were pulled on the boat and returned to safety.
Supervisor Joseph Saladino stated, “Our community is indebted to Patrick Graba and all of the amazing first responders who assisted in this perilous emergency. We take tremendous pride in recognizing Firefighter Graba for an ability to act quickly and skillfully when fellow citizens are in need. His alert and essential actions were lifesaving and exceedingly worthy of the Town’s highest honor.”
In recognizing Firefighter Graba, members of the Town Board were joined by Chief James Ceglia of Atlantic Steamer Fire Co. No. 1 in Oyster Bay.