Raymond Robinson was driving with his family on Interstate 495 North in Haverhill when he came across a horrific scene on the side of the highway.
A Jeep Cherokee had gone off the road and was lodged between two trees. The vehicle was completely off the ground. Robinson's instincts immediately took over. He pulled his own car off the highway and noticed that three people were trapped in the Jeep. One needed medical help.
This type of situation is not new to Robinson, who is a captain with the Haverhill Fire Department. Robinson was off duty at the time, but he rushed to the aid of the victims and kept the worst-hurt victim in traction until other firefighters arrived and removed the victims from the vehicle.
"When we're off duty, we are still good Samaritans and we have a duty to act as firefighters and EMTs," Robinson said. "When you see something, you want to help.''
The victims did not suffer serious injuries, but Robinson prevented any further injury to the 68-year-old who most needed help. Robinson stabilized that person and kept the situation under control, all while his family watched from a few yards away.
"It was definitely different than normal," Robinson said. "It felt good to know that my family was there watching. I'd like to see my children want to do the same thing down the road if they choose."
Robinson was honored by Public Safety Commissioner Alan DeNaro with a citation for his "superior level of service, dedication and devotion to duty."
"It shows the community what I've known all along. It's not just a job, it's a way of life," DeNaro said. "It's something woven into the fabric. This is a guy who's on his way home with his family. The car is literally hanging in the air between trees. He pulls over on 495 and he leaves his family to help them. That's pretty powerful stuff."
DeNaro presented Robinson with his citation at a recent City Council meeting. During the ceremony, Councilor Michael McGonagle praised Robinson for showcasing the positive side of a Fire Department which has received black eyes due to scandals such as firefighters lying about receiving required EMT testing and abusing sick time.
"We've had a few incidents over the last few year that have reflected poorly on the firefighters and the city in general," McGonagle said. "It was really a very refreshing to have an individual like him come in front of us, so we could have the opportunity to recognize him.''
Robinson agreed with McGonagle.
"It's nice to focus on some of the positives that the firefighters do,'' Robinson said.
DeNaro is police chief as well as public safety commissioner. He said that as chief, he has given this kind of citation to officers who have gone the extra mile, and now as public safety commissioner, he wants to extend the citations to firefighters as well.
"I want the city to know the caliber of the people that we have serving them," DeNaro said.
Robinson said his effort to help the crash victims is just part of the job.
"In the moment you're just doing your job, even if not on duty," he said. "I just want to help people. It's rewarding."
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