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Christopher J. Prescott Medal

April 15, 1997, 1736 hours
Heliport, East 63rd Street and Roosevelt Drive,
Manhattan, NY

Paramedic: Jeffrey W. Hinton

Jeffrey W. Hinton

Jeffrey W. Hinton was appointed to EMS on April 19, 1991. Assigned to EMS Battalion 16. He is the recipient of 12 pre-hospital save awards and one commendation. He holds an AA degree from Suffolk County Community College. He served in the United States Army as a Ranger from 1970-1973. His service included the Vietnam conflict from 1971-1972, where he was awarded the Vietnamese Ranger Badge. He resides in Liberty, NY, with his wife, Diane, and their six children, John, Elizabeth, Christina, Danielle, Connor and Michael.

On this quiet Tuesday during the late afternoon, EMS Unit 15Z3 was at their assigned area location, waiting for the next call, when a report of a helicopter in the water at 63rd Street and the FDR Drive came over the radio. Noting their location, the crew contacted dispatch and began their response. Upon their arrival at the Heliport, Paramedic Jeffrey Hinton and his partner, Paramedic Jonathan Rose, arrived at the water’s edge and quickly noticed that the helicopter was submerged and upside down. Without hesitation, Paramedic Hinton removed his boots and radio and leaped into the murky water. The drop from the pier to the water was more than 15 feet. Without protective equipment and with the water temperature colder than 60 degrees, Paramedic Hinton’s body temperature immediately began to drop. Just entering the water took his breath away. With no other rescuers in the water and without the aid of any special equipment, Paramedic Hinton--seeing air bubbles escaping from the flipped over and submerged craft--dove under the surface in an attempt to free the occupants. The water was so dark that he was unable to reach the craft in his first attempt. He then tried additional dives, but not knowing that the craft was sinking to the bottom of the more than 100-foot depth, he was unable to reach it. Finally, after more than five minutes of attempts, Paramedic Hinton was exhausted and feeling weak from his rescue work. Soon, other emergency service agencies entered the water and Paramedic Hinton--exhausted and suffering from hypothermia--was pulled by FDNY rescue personnel to the pier. Once on the pier, he was placed on a stretcher and treated for his exposure to the severe elements. However, seeing that victims were being removed to the Heliport landing, he removed himself from the stretcher and began to treat them. Weak, cold and shivering, Paramedic Hinton--along with his partner--used their paramedic skills to begin cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and advanced life-saving efforts. The patient was taken to the emergency department of New York Hospital. At this tragic scene, 11 patients were treated and transported to local hospitals. Of these 11 victims, four were in critical to serious condition and two lost their lives. When asked what he had thought about prior to entering the water alone without protective equipment, Paramedic Hinton said, "I said a quick prayer to the Virgin Mother and entered the water." He also said that his wife, Diane, upon hearing about the rescue, was "a little upset." When asked what he would do if confronted with a similar situation, Paramedic Hinton said that if there was a chance that he could save one life, he would do it again tomorrow. For his prompt and heroic performance in an attempt to save the lives of these trapped victims, the FDNY, Emergency Medical Service, is proud to present Paramedic Jeffrey W. Hinton with the Christopher J. Prescott Medal for 1997.--EG

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