The Right Place at the Right Time: Rick Macheda Saves the Day…Twice

By Virginia Limmiatis

National Grid’s vision to be a world-class safety organization, doesn’t end at the workplace ensuring the safety of our employees, contractors and the community. The heroes among us are hard at work outside the office, too.

Rick Macheda, Senior Supervisor UNY CMS, is one of these heroes. His training as a volunteer firefighter and dive team member for the Cazenovia (upstate NY) Fire Department was put to the test this year when Rick’s quick thinking and focus proved vital during two emergencies that could have ended far differently.

Rick receives the National Grid Lifesaving Award at Nov. 6., team meeting in Albany.
Pictured (left to right): Rick Macheda, Senior Supervisor UNY CMS; Tim Restivo, Manager of CISS NY; and Dave Lammon, Director of Programs NY Gas Operations

In June, Rick was called to the scene after a 15-year-old girl fell into Limestone Creek, in Pompey, NY.  She was trapped under a bridge, submerged in the cold and high, rushing water. Through a hole, she clutched to the bridge, awaiting rescue.

The first responders knew time was of the essence. Rick was chosen to lead the effort.  Wearing a wet suit and tied to a safety line held by firefighters, Rick’s well-being depended on the 10 first responders holding tightly, anchoring him to shore.

At once, Rick dove in and began swimming against the two biggest obstacles: time and the swift, moving water. With zero visibility and limited access, Rick carefully felt his way and finally made contact with the teen.

With only minutes to assess the situation, Rick returned to shore where he would design a communication plan. The plan involved special signals of “tugging on the rope,” a method of communicating to the teen when to let go of the bridge and trust Rick to hold onto her.

Diving back into the water, Rick made his way to the bridge, where he was able to tie a rope around the girl, freeing her from the bridge and pulling her safely to shore. The signals on the rope and Rick’s heroic actions, made the rescue a success!

“Rick truly saved a young girl’s life and really risked his own,” said Tim Restivo, Manager of CISS NY. “The details of the rescue are harrowing – the news coverage doesn’t do it justice. Rick put his life in danger to save another.”

A few months later, in September, Rick witnessed an auto accident in Syracuse, while stopped at a traffic signal awaiting the light to change. A vehicle raced through the intersection striking a light pole, then rolling for a distance before coming to a stop.

Acting quickly, Rick sprinted to the vehicle where he removed the injured man. Rick administered first aid until the paramedics arrived. The man sustained head trauma and was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital.

“His quick actions are remarkable,” said Dave Lammon, Director of Programs NY Gas Operations. “Coming to the aid of those in need makes Rick deserving of this special Lifesaving recognition.”

National Grid’s Lifesaving plaque is awarded to an employee whose heroic actions demonstrate, quick thinking, focus and doing the right thing by aiding someone in a potentially life-threatening situation.

Watch Media Coverage: Teen Rescued from Creek


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