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Lieutenant Kirby McElhearn Medal

April 9, 1997, 0705 hours
Brook Avenue, between 149th Street and Westchester Avenue, South Bronx

EMT-D: Frank Mendoza

EMT-D: Roy Givens

Frank Mendoza was appointed to EMS on April 15, 1996. Assigned to EMS Battalion 14. He has been cited twice before. He attended SUNY at Binghamton. He resides in Queens with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two sons, Francisco Xavier and Michael Anthony.

Frank Mendoza

Roy Givens was appointed to EMS on March 4, 1993. Assigned to EMS Battalion 14. He is the recipient of three pre-hospital saves and several commendations. He resides in Hollis, Queens, with his wife and their three children.

Roy Givens

There are few sounds more terrifying or heartbreaking than a child in distress; in this case, the sounds of a child being murdered. At approximately 0705 hours on April 9, 1997, EMTs Frank Mendoza and Roy Givens were passing a desolate section of the South Bronx--Brook Avenue between 149th Street and Westchester Avenue. They were returning to their assigned post at Leggat Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard after leaving Bronx Lebanon Hospital--Fulton Division. While passing the block, they observed a rather bizarre and troubling sight: Two large females appeared to be huddled together, a big black coat covering the upper part of their bodies, and they were staggering about. As they approached the women, EMT Mendoza noticed a third pair of legs--those of a small child--under the coat and, at times, being lifted off the ground. They sounded their siren several times, but were ignored. As they stopped at the curb and rolled down their windows, they were horrified to hear the muffled screams of a small child and a sound of gasping for air from underneath the coat. They immediately radioed for police assistance for an assault in progress. Leaping from their vehicle, they demanded several times that the women remove the coat, but were ignored. They then attempted to remove the coat without success. Fearing the worst, EMT Givens cut the coat from the grasp of the women. As they pulled the coat back, they were met with a gruesome sight. A small girl was being smothered against the body of a large woman, later identified as her mother. The woman also was tightening the strap from a backpack around the youngster’s throat, choking the life from her. Efforts to dislodge the child from the mother were unsuccessful and the woman had to be wrestled to the ground. Once this was done, EMTs Mendoza and Givens were able to force the child from the woman’s grip and safely secure her in the confines of their ambulance. It was necessary for EMT Mendoza to cut the strap from around the girl’s throat so she could breathe. At this point, additional EMS and police units arrived. After being rescued, the child was mute and refused to open her eyes. In a short time, with the gentle persuasion of EMT Regina Burns--who had arrived with the police--the child disclosed the following. The mother and aunt had told the child the previous evening that they should leave their Brooklyn house to seek another shelter. After wandering the streets all night, the mother told the little girl, "today is the day you are going to Heaven with God," and "keep your eyes closed or you will burn in hell." The mother and aunt then proceeded to strangle the child. If not for the intuition, quick thinking and courage exhibited by EMTs Mendoza and Givens, an eight-year-old girl would not be alive today. Their actions were above and beyond the call of duty and in the finest traditions of the FDNY Emergency Medical Service. It is, therefore, fitting that they be awarded the Lieutenant Kirby McElhearn Medal for 1997.--GA

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