Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

2010 Medal of Merit Recipients


Medal of Merit citation for:

Great Meadow Assistant Deputy Superintendent Eileen Russell

On May 29, 2009, Assistant Deputy Superintendent Eileen Russell was out with a few friends for a quiet dinner at the Irish Castle restaurant in the Putnam County Town of Patterson. Shortly after finishing her meal, Ms. Russell noticed a man sitting outside who was obviously not feeling well. The man, later identified as restaurant owner Joe Savio, called his wife out to assist him. Within seconds, Mr. Savio�s wife was screaming for someone to call 911, saying her husband was not breathing. Instinctively, Ms. Russell sprung into action. She and one of her friends, Gwen Faust, immediately began administering cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), with Ms. Russell applying chest compressions and her friend applying mouth-to-mouth. Mr. Savio was quickly turning blue, but Ms. Russell and Ms. Faust maintained their composure and continued. Mr. Savio�s color started to return; he drew a few breaths and coughed, only to stop breathing again. Ms. Russell and Ms. Faust resumed CPR until paramedics arrived. At that point, one of the first responders took over chest compressions and Ms. Russell assumed mouth-to-mouth. It quickly became apparent that Ms. Russell, with Ms. Faust�s help, had saved Mr. Savio�s life.

Mr. Savio�s sister-in-law, Lori O�Mara, kept in touch with Ms. Russell, providing periodic reports of his condition. Mr. Savio spent a month in the Intensive Care Unit.

The quick action by Ms. Russell and Ms. Faust maintained critical blood and oxygen flow to Mr. Savio�s brain and other vital organs, allowing him to make a full and complete recovery and a joyful homecoming to his wife and 12-year-old daughter.

Mr. Savio recently held a 50th birthday celebration, where Assistant Deputy Superintendent Russell and Ms. Faust were guests of honor.

Assistant Deputy Superintendent Russell, your selfless act in quickly responding to a medical emergency saved another person�s life.

Age: 51
DOCS Work History: 12/01/95
Start Date at Great Meadow: 11/13/06

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Medal of Merit citation for:

Cayuga Sergeant Thomas Mulhern

At approximately 5:40 a.m. on February 9, 2009, while driving to work, Sergeant Thomas Mulhern came upon a motor vehicle accident in which Tonya Wilkinson, who was nine months pregnant, was trapped inside her overturned minivan in the middle of Tollgate Hill Road in the Cayuga County Town of Locke. A tractor-trailer was approaching from the opposite direction in the darkness.

Ms. Wilkinson had hit black ice and lost control of her vehicle, which struck a snow embankment on the shoulder and rolled onto its top. Upside down inside her van, Ms. Wilkinson unbuckled her seatbelt but could not open her door. Sergeant Mulhern pulled his own vehicle over and, thinking he might have to break Ms. Wilkinson’s window to pull her out, was able to rock her van back and forth enough to open the door and extricate her. The tractor-trailer had been able to avoid the van, but just as Sergeant Mulhern escorted Ms. Wilkinson to his vehicle and called for help, a pickup truck hit the same patch of black ice and struck Ms. Wilkinson’s van, causing significant damage.

In the commotion and darkness, Sergeant Mulhern had not realized Ms. Wilkinson was pregnant until he placed her in the passenger seat of his own vehicle and she told him she was afraid her water was breaking.

New York State Police Trooper Kim Cotton, who responded to the scene, stated that the incident “would have been much more serious if Sergeant Mulhern had not removed Ms. Wilkinson from her vehicle when he did.” Ms. Wilkinson said afterward, “Tom was the nicest person who could have stopped that morning to help me.”

The following day, February 10, 2009, Ms. Wilkinson gave birth to a healthy baby boy and reports her son is doing well.

Sergeant Mulhern, you displayed bravery and courage by willingly placing yourself in harm’s way.

Age: 53
DOCS Work History: 04/02/81
Start Date at Orleans: 11/13/01

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