One Hero Among Many
Sep 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Stephanie Silk
It didn't take a phone booth or a batcave for one security officer to transform into a hero — just the knowledge, training and instinct he has learned from his years in security.
James Cariddi, a retired corrections officer and a security officer for AlliedBarton Security Services who works at Dowling College, Oakdale, N.Y., is gaining recognition as a lifesaver.
June 9, 2008, was a typical day for Cariddi, who was relieving an officer of his duty, until he received a call informing him that there was a car heading toward the Connetquot River on the Dowling College campus.
“Two seconds later, they said it was in the river,” Cariddi recalls.
The owner of the car, a mother in charge of environmental geese control on the campus, had left the car in drive — not in park as she thought. After she exited the car, it accidentally rolled more than 70 feet and plunged into the river — with her 11-month-old twin babies strapped inside.
Cariddi responded to the scene immediately.
Not having any formal water safety training, Cariddi took off his equipment belt and radio and jumped into the river. “Thank God the windows were open,” says Cariddi, who stopped the mother from trying to pry open the car doors after she got in the water to save her children. “I jumped in the water and she handed me the first child [from the window]. I put the girl on the ground, and the woman said, ‘They are twins — there is one more!’ So I pulled the child from other side out of his car seat,” he says. Two students also participated in the rescue.
Cariddi explains how scared the children were, and although he rendered first aid to them, they were not seriously injured. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
His reaction throughout the ordeal was just to do what he had to do. “It was instinct. You don't think — you just let the training take over,” he says.
Cariddi, who has been an AlliedBarton Security Officer for four years, says that it can often be a thankless job. “People don't realize the things you do. They think you are there to harass them,” he says. “It's nice to get recognition for what we do on a daily basis — like helping people and giving first aid.”
Cariddi hopes the experience sends a message to other security officers that a good attitude, professionalism and a team effort will make everything work, whether on a college campus, a mall or anywhere else.
Since the incident, AlliedBarton has honored Cariddi in a ceremony, along with a luncheon at the college and a plaque. Local news affiliates have interviewed him, and the grateful mother has given Cariddi a personal gift. “I'm not shy — but it is overwhelming,” he says.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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