Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cop's Quick Action a Lifesaver for Teen

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cop's Quick Action a Lifesaver for Teen

Article excerpt

A Mahwah police officer acted quickly at a hectic accident scene, using a tourniquet to prevent a Ramapo College student from bleeding to death after he was struck by a pickup while crossing Route 17, authorities said on Wednesday.

Officer Matt Lombardo wrapped the tourniquet -- a medical device that is issued to all township police officers -- around the student's left leg as he lay in the highway's southbound lanes on Sunday night until a medical helicopter arrived, said Chief James Batelli of the Mahwah police.

Jason Criscuolo, 18, of Brick Township, who was a standout pitcher in high school, was struck shortly before 8 p.m. and was flown by helicopter to St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, where doctors amputated his leg below the knee, Batelli said. Criscuolo was scheduled to undergo additional surgery on Wednesday, the chief said.

Criscuolo's family, Batelli said, "could have been scheduling a funeral" if not for the swift response by Lombardo and others who arrived shortly after the accident. He said it wasn't until his detectives spoke to an emergency room doctor at St. Joseph's that they learned that Lombardo's use of a tourniquet had saved the teenager.

"It's why we do the job," Lombardo, 27, who lives in Ringwood, said Wednesday.

Batelli said he met with the student's father, Anthony Criscuolo, a chiropractor, who expressed his appreciation for Lombardo's actions and repeated the emergency room doctor's assertion that the officer had saved his son's life. The elder Criscuolo could not be reached on Wednesday.

"I definitely want to reach out to him and his family," Lombardo said of the teenager. "I was ecstatic to hear that he made it. ... My thoughts are definitely with Jason and his family and that he has a speedy recovery."

Batelli said a series of events helped save Jason Criscuolo as first responders, pressed for time, worked together in a tense atmosphere. Police, he said, have yet to determine why Criscuolo was attempting to cross the busy highway on foot.

Lombardo, who transferred to the Mahwah Police Department from Midland Park about 1 1/2 years ago, was called to the scene at 7:40 p.m. and was soon joined by Officer Kevin Tielemans. Criscuolo was unconscious with a severe leg injury and was bleeding from his head, Lombardo said. Lombardo immediately requested that a medevac helicopter be dispatched to the scene, and wrapped a tourniquet around the injured leg.

"He was in pretty bad shape when we first rolled up," Lombardo said.

The driver of the pickup, who said he didn't see the teenager in the dark, had some medical training and offered assistance, police said. The motorist behind the pickup was an emergency medical technician who also administered aid after positioning his vehicle sideways on the roadway to prevent Criscuolo from being struck again, Batelli said. …

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