Three of Collier County’s finest front-line emergency responders stand honored as this year’s Distinguished Public Service Awards winners.
Collier County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Patricia Villa, Collier Emergency Medical Services Firefighter-Paramedic Paul Passaretti and Golden Gate Fire Control and Rescue District Engineer Jesus Padilla are our designated heroes.
* Villa was first to respond to calls for help with a choking baby in Golden Gate. Fortunately, says the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, an award co-sponsor with the Daily News and others, Villa used to teach first aid for the American Red Cross. It was the first time she had ever saved someone’s life.
* Passaretti, an 18-year veteran of county service, is also a teacher and mentor. He is on the faculty at Edison State College, teaching emergency care, and takes part in programs to share skills with co-workers.
* Padilla is cited for valiant efforts as a diver to rescue the last of four persons in a car submerged in a lake with zero visibility. Although the victim he rescued survived only two days, Golden Gate Fire Chief Bob Metzger says of Padilla: “He faced and overcame profound challenges in locating the vehicle, establishing its orientation and making the risky decision to enter it to try to save a life.”
Typical of true public servants, the three say they do their often dangerous jobs to help their fellow man, not for the glory.
Also, they know good results are due to teamwork, including the support of their families.
Annual awards such as these are so worthwhile because they let the surprised recipients know their great deeds are appreciated.