When Old Bridge Police Officers Matthew Jaikissoon and Sara Micich arrived at the scene on Cottonwood Lane, they encountered thick black smoke billowing out of an apartment door and window.
The call was urgent and quick action was needed as the 9-1-1 call indicated that there were children in the apartment.

This fear was confirmed as there was a man on the front lawn yelling "baby, baby!" repeatedly. Without hesitation, the officers charged into the apartment.

Due to the choking smoke and zero visibility, the officers had to exit the apartment within a minute and then spotted a man in a bedroom window holding the body of a child.

Officer Jaikisson rushed to pull the child from the window while Officer Micich retrieved the oxygen from the patrol car.

That's when officers Nicholas Petrone, Vinny Galgano, and OEM Coordinator Michael Petschauer arrived on the scene.

The residents spoke no English which made it difficult to determine whether there were other children in the residence.

As Officer Galgano administered CPR to the child and removed them from the building, Officers Jaikisson, Micich, Petrone and Petschauer rushed back into the burning building.

Again, with the thick, black smoke and zero ability to breathe and see, the officers were forced to exit the building soon after entering.

As they did, the fire department arrived on the scene, and Officer Petrone grabbed a respirator and re-entered the building. He was able to retrieve a female resident and carried her out to the lawn.

At this point, the residents who had exited the building and were screaming about a baby inside tried to reenter the burning structure, at one point taking a mountain bike and trying to smash through a first-floor window, accosted the female who had just been removed by Officer Petrone.

The officers had to restrain the residents as the search for children continued aided by the Old Bridge Fire Department.

Eventually, Assistant Fire Chief Vincent Lovallo found the baby still inside on a bedroom floor and removed the child to safety.

Soon after it was learned that two other children who were inside the home had escaped after being woken up with the intense smell of smoke.

Thanks to the heroism of all the first responders involved, the children impacted and the family will make a full recovery.

I want to thank Police Officer and PBA Local 127 President Vinny Galgano for submitting this Blue Friday and acknowledging the heroism of his fellow officers.

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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