Dramatic rescues earn first responders recognition and awards

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – They’re the people running into danger, as other people run out, and on Saturday many of them were honored here in the Capital Region for their heroic actions.

In a room full of first responders two in particular were honored for their brave actions.

Fred Kopf, a volunteer firefighter from the Baldwin Fire Department, was named New York Firefighter of Year by the Firemen’s Association.

He says he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

When he heard an elderly man was trapped inside the second floor of a house last year, Kopf says his instinct kicked in.

“The second sweep of the room I found him,” Kopf says. “and then somehow when I got back to the door it had closed. I had to push him away from the door. I guess at that point it was all on instinct.”

Kopf says he had an idea of where the fire would be going.

“I had a few minutes, and I said ‘I gotta take a chance somebody’s in there’,” said Kopf.

Also honored today, was 21-year-old Riley DeJong.

“Normally when you respond to an emergency situation you have a few minutes to think about it and get your thoughts together, and kind of make a game plan,” said DeJong. “Whereas for me, I really didn’t have any time.”

DeJong was on the Metro-North train that crashed into an SUV in Valhalla.

“We train every week, because while we hope that it never happens, we do know in the back of our head that there’s always a chance that you’ll have to save a life,” said DeJong.

Her medical training and instincts took over and she was able to help people who were injured on the train.

Today she was honored for her heroism with the EMS Provider of the Year Award.


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