On Thursday, Oct. 25, Springfield Police Chief John Cook was presented with the 2012 Raymond Terpanick Police Valor Award by the Saint Barnabas Burn Foundation during the 25th Annual Valor Awards in Clifton, NJ.
Chief Cook was honored for his quick life-saving action on June 8, 2012 with a car accident that he barely avoided being involved in himself.
While traveling southbound on Old Short Hills Road in Millburn around 10 p.m., Cook saw a vehicle traveling northbound at a moderate pace with a Mercedes speeding behind it. The Mercedes tried to pass the first vehicle by swerving into the oncoming lane. Upon seeing the Chief’s vehicle driving towards him, the driver quickly pulled back in behind the first vehicle, striking it, losing control and ultimately hitting a large tree head-on.
The car flipped on its side and burst into flames with its four occupants trapped inside. As they screamed for help, Chief Cook returned to the scene and radioed for help. He grabbed his fire extinguisher to put out the fire and checked the occupants of the first vehicle while waiting for first responders. All of this happened with seconds.
The Saint Barnabas Burn Foundation commended Chief Cook for remaining professional and courteous as he assessed the situation and took appropriate action to save the lives of the four trapped victims.
Each year, the Burn Foundation, established in 1987 to support the Burn Center at Saint Barnabas, New Jersey’s only certified burn treatment facility, recognizes firefighters and policemen from throughout New Jersey for their heroic endeavors on and off the line of duty. Honorees are nominated by respective departments and selected by a committee of peers.
The Saint Barnabas Burn Foundation provides supportive services and counseling to burn victims and their families treated at The Burn Center at Saint Barnabas. In addition, the Foundation’s educational programs teach burn awareness, prevention and fire safety to thousands of people of all backgrounds throughout the state of New Jersey. To learn more, or make a donation, please contact www.njburncenter.com or 973-322-4344.