MAHWAH, N.J. -- A specialized unit created last fall by Mahwah Police James Batelli and two of his captains quickly paid dividends when members rescued a driver whose car had rolled 100 feet down a New York State Thruway embankment.
Several 911 calls brought police, firefighters and EMS units to the interchange of Routes 287 and 87 near the New York State border at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday.
Responders included Sgt. Michael Blondin, who drove north past stopped traffic in the southbound exit lanes.
Blondin alerted fellow members of the brand-new Mahwah Police Services Unit.
Headed by Lt. Jeff Dino -- who coordinates the monthly training -- the 11-member unit was officially launched last Friday.
Capt. Stuart Blank and Capt. Stephen Jaffe, who oversees its operation, proposed creating the team last fall.
Dino and Blondin "have done a fantastic job in selecting and training officers," Batelli told Daily Voice on Tuesday. "They don't like to take credit, but they deserve it.
"I am fortunate to be chief of such a skilled group of officers."
PSU members, who attended FBI SWAT classes and trained with the NYPD's Emergency Services Unit, are also skilled in ice rescue. They completed rope rescue class only last Wednesday.
On Tuesday, unit members clambered down the embankment to the Dodge Dart and found the driver unresponsive, with a head injury, Blondin told Daily Voice.
A landing zone was established on the highway as the officers deployed ropes for what is known as a Stokes basket, he said. EMS workers joined them so they could treat the victim.
After gently setting him in, the officers lifted the basket to the road.
The victim was placed into an ambulance before being transferred into a medical Lifenet AirTwo medical chopper out of Ulster, NY that flew him to Westchester Medical Center.