The vast majority of fire department emergencies these days are medicals, although there will always be fires and other types of emergencies where only the fire department can be counted upon to save lives and property. There was a time in Hamden and everywhere else when medical calls were few and far between. In 1952, thirty "emergency" or "oxygen" calls were logged for the entire year! Today, that quota can be easily filled in one day by the HFD.
It wasn't until 1971 that the Hamden Fire Department had trained EMTs, and it would be another five years before it had paramedics.
A "save" for any department member is a wonderful experience - truly a reward in itself. During the past 40-plus years, we undoubtedly have had thousands of them. However, in those days before EMTs, a "save" was especially gratifying given the limited training and comparatively primitive equipment available to the fire service at the time. Below are two such examples from the early 1960s, both involving small children and Hamden firefighters who had the knowledge, skills and abilities at the right moment to meet the dire situations.
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From the minutes of the February 15, 1961 meeting of the Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners:
"The clerk [Richard P. Cusson] read a letter from James T. O'Brien thanking the Dept. for help recently rendered to their son.
"Chairman [Elton] Wetmore moved and Mr. [Michael] Sullivan seconded a motion to give a citation to Joseph McDermott for his work during the above emergency and to give a station citation to the rest of the men on duty at the time of Station #2. The clerk was instructed to write to Joseph McDermott and ask him to appear before the next Board meeting."
From the minutes of the March 15, 1961 meeting of the Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners:
"Joseph McDermott appeared before the Board with the O'Brien family and was presented with a citation from the Board for recently helping to save the life of the O'Brien child."
Article and photo courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society
This photo of the Red Cross citation presentation was taken at the September 11, 1961 meeting of the Commission.
Newspaper article courtesy of the fellow whose life Fred saved 50 years ago.
We received this newspaper clipping (at right) last year through the Co. 5 website. It was about young Anthony Zaino, son of Dino Zaino, a popular Mt. Carmel barber whose shop was right across Whitney Avenue from Station 5. As the article notes, Anthony's mother rushed her infant son to the firehouse after he suffered a seizure. Firefighter Fred Fletcher administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, thereby saving his life.
Fifty years later, Anthony Zaino sent us this article for the archives. We did not get the exact date, but it is believed to be 1961 or 1962.