DALLAS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) –When first responders get a gruesome call on a winter morning, the odds are stacked against them.
But in an instant, rescue workers become heroes and Tuesday night, brave first responders from our community were recognized for their efforts.
Earlier this year, Justin Shantz’s life hung in the balance in Dallas Township, stuck in a car that was on fire. But officer Bradley Balutis, who was first on the scene, made the most of his training and helped extinguish the flames. Backup soon arrived and Shantz lived to see another day.
Tuesday night, Balutis was given a well-deserved honor; an American Police Hall of Fame Life Saving Award. Balutis says he may have been the first to help Shantz, but everyone on scene that terrible morning turned a bad situation around.
“For me, it was the firefighters, the paramedics, all the EMTs that showed up, the Lifelight crew, the team of doctors and nurses that have helped Justin to where he’s at today and continuing,” Balutis said.
Local fire departments were also formally recognized for their efforts on that morning. Trucksville’s chief Steve Mathers says he remembers the shock of getting that call, but that’s when teamwork made a big difference.
“I think everybody’s training just kicks in when you roll up on a scene that devastating,” Mathers said.
Shantz freely admits he’s alive today because of the training and bravery of everyone involved.
“I know that I would not be here without them, obviously. I plan to become a cop myself and understand what they do every single day, risking their lives, the training, and everything. It’s awesome,” Shantz said.
Award or not, this community recognizes the hard work put in by its first responders. Shantz says he had plans to join the Army before the accident that took his legs, but he’s still working on that goal of becoming a police officer.
Balutis and everyone present for the awards say it was a terrible morning, but they never hesitated and were going to do everything in their power to make sure Justin lived to pursue that goal.