Kiwanis Club Presents Life Saver Award To St. Bernard Fire Department

[L-R] Chief of Training Eric Crotwell, Fire Chief Thomas Stone, Kiwanis President Jeff Southerland, Captain Martin Nehlig, Life Saver Chairman Sam Catalanotto and Deputy Chief James Hartman.

Submitted by: Sammie Catalanotto

On May 4th of this year, the Kiwanis Club of St. Bernard/Arabi presented the Kiwanis Life Saver Award to Fire Department Captain Martin Nehlig for his life-saving actions earlier this year.

On January 31 of this year, St. Bernard Parish Fire Department Captain Martin Nehlig and his crew responded to a medical emergency on Jo Ann Court in Violet. Upon arrival, they found a 56-year-old male having difficulty breathing. Captain Nehlig assessed the patient’s vitals and administered oxygen. When EMS arrived they took over patient care but requested a firefighter ride with the ambulance. Captain Nehlig immediately volunteered and assisted with patient care during the ride. While en-route to the hospital, the patient stopped breathing and lost his pulse. The ambulance stopped and pulled off the road. Captain Nehlig requested assistance via his fire department radio and began providing CPR. A Fire Department Rescue Squad arrived on the scene and the LUCAS CPR device was applied to provide flawless chest compressions to the patient. Captain Nehlig continued providing respirations for the patient as the ambulance once again continued to the hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, the patient was transferred to the care of the Emergency Department staff. Due to the extraordinary efforts of Captain Nehlig and his crew, the patient regained a pulse and began breathing on his own. 

During his 17 year career, Captain Nehlig has been involved in numerous lifesaving operations. Captain Nehlig also helps train rookie firefighters assigned to our Second Platoon, continuing their training that started after spending 14 weeks at the LSU State Fire Academy. Captain Nehlig teaches them response protocols, street locations, apparatus operations, and rescue tool procedures.

Chief Thomas Stone says, Captain Nehlig is always smiling, has a “can do” attitude and goes that extra mile when needed without being asked. He has saved the citizens of our Parish, numerous tax dollars making needed repairs to the department’s apparatus and stations. 

His professionalism and fortitude were displayed during the many rescues the department performed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His mechanical skills were used to keep boats and other flooded vehicles operating during these rescues and after the flood waters receded, firefighting fires throughout the Parish.

A proud graduate of Andrew Jackson High School; he is married to his lovely wife Sherie; together they have two children.

The future of the St. Bernard Parish Fire Department looks bright with Officers, like this fine young man, who will continue the tradition of providing life saving services to our citizens! The Parish is lucky to have such a dedicated Firefighter. 

Kiwanis Life Saver Committee Chairman Sam Catalanotto said the Kiwanis Club started presenting these awards more than a decade ago as a way to recognize first-responders in the parish for the work they do to protect the public. The award is presented quarterly to parish first responders chosen by the Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department. “In todays social climate they are often spot lighted in the darkest moments, but these men and women are always the first people through the door, and usually the last ones out, in an emergency, and life threatening situation, putting their lives on the line everyday,” Catalanotto said.

Anyone interested in joining St. Bernard/Arabi Kiwanis Club community service organization is welcome to attend one of its luncheons each Tuesday, 12 noon in the Rocky and Carlo’s Sicilian Room, 613 W. St. Bernard Highway in Chalmette. For more information, call Robby Showalter at (504) 616-7312 or visit our Facebook at St. Bernard Kiwanis.