New York sanitation workers are proving that it can be rewarding to have pride in their jobs — and be good public servants. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Department Commissioner John Doherty recently recognized 200 employees for their acts of bravery, job performance and career longevity. Workers who are good Samaritans and go beyond the call of duty received Distinguished Service Certificates. And several employees received medals of honor for their good deeds.
For example, sanitation workers Lucien Rojas and Robert Gravino were among the seven employees who received Gold Medals of Honor because they risked their own physical safety to aid another person. On April 5, 2002, Rojas and Gravino were on their recycling route when they saw smoke coming from a two-family house in Queens. They rushed into the house to warn residents and led three children to safety. The pair also scaled a backyard fence to rescue an elderly man. Although the heat, smoke and fire hindered the rescue attempt and the man was pulled from the building by firefighters, the DSNY believes their combined heroic efforts were notable because Rojas and Gravino placed themselves at risk and saved lives.
Another awardee, Supervisor Rocco Siclari of the Bronx Borough office, received a Gold Medal of Honor for stopping an attempted kidnapping of two young children and a car theft.
Also receiving a medal was Michael Bristol who jumped out of his sanitation truck to pull the emergency break of a rolling van. At the time, the van's driver was unconscious. The vehicle was saved from entering a busy intersection and possibly injuring pedestrians.
Louis Gagliotta, a 75-year-old sanitation worker from Brooklyn, received a perfect attendance award because he has been with the department since 1957 and not taken a sick day in the past 45 years.
Additionally, three unit citations also were awarded. The DSNY recognized the Bureau of Cleaning and Collection (BCC) along with Support Services for their record-breaking snow cleaning efforts during the February 2003 blizzard. According to the department, they melted nearly 50,000 tons of snow.
“Every day, the men and women of the DSNY serve New Yorkers with honor and distinction,” Doherty says. “This year's awardees exemplify our department's commitment to New York. I am very proud all of the awardees and what they have accomplished. Their heroism reflects on all members of this department, and I want to thank them for their service.”