A paramedic who participated in an international exchange and a firefighter who spent two tours of duty in Iraq as a U.S. Marine were honored by American Legion Post 229 as Emergency Medical Technician of the Year and Firefighter of the Year during ceremonies at the Post Nov. 4. The honorees are:
-- EMT of the Year Philip Taurisano, a firefighter/paramedic who has been with the Utica Fire Department since Sept. 22, 2000. He became a paramedic in 2002.
-- Firefighter of the Year Jeffrey Hogan, who has been with the Utica Fire Department since March 27, 2007.
Calling them "two outstanding individuals," Fire Chief Russell Brooks said they have demonstrated dedication and courage every day they're on the job.
Taurisano has been active in an exchange program with Polish paramedics. In 2008 he traveled to Poland and competed in the Polish International Paramedic Competition, taking first place. In 2007 he completed a Tactical Operational Medical Support Course in Texas; then, in 2008, he took and passed the Sequential Trauma Emergency Preparedness class in Cairo, Egypt, and last year he completed the Critical Care Emergency Medical Transport Program at the University of Maryland.
"If you're having chest pain, this is the guy you want there," Chief Brooks quipped of Taurisano.
Hogan, a combat Marine reservist who served in Iraq from August 2004 to March 2005 and again from March 2009 to September 2009, is the first Utica firefighter to graduate from Mohawk Valley Community College's Associate in Applied Science Fire Protection Technology Program (in May 2008). His academic performance gained him the President List's Achievement Award. Then Hogan went on to pursue a bachelor's degree in business management from Utica College.
Post Commander Anthony Palladino introduced Paul Wojcik, the post's law and order chair, to present the awards.