Gilbert police sergeant nominated for Lifesaver Award - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Gilbert police sergeant nominated for Lifesaver Award

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Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 7:41 pm | Updated: 10:27 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

When Gilbert police Sgt. Joe Amaya arrived, the 9-month-old girl was unconscious and not breathing, and a worried neighbor was leaning over the child.

The baby, who was found floating in the bathtub on Feb. 22, 2007, had been left alone by her mother in the water with her 3-year-old sister.

Amaya began CPR with the help of the neighbor, and the two kept the baby alive for several minutes before medical crews arrived.

In many of these situations, police say the outlook is grim.

But the girl survived. For his heroics, the 39-year-old officer has been nominated for the Lifesaver Award from the Arizona chapter of the National Latino Peace Officers Association.

"I'm almost a little embarrassed," Amaya said. "I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do. I'm sure there are many officers who would have done the same exact thing in that situation."

However, that rescue was one of three times Amaya saved a life last year. In fact, during the same month, he helped save another infant.

A 2-month-old baby was found lying on the floor without a pulse. Amaya and another officer were the first to arrive. The two performed CPR on the child until paramedics arrived.

In November, he saved a 57-year-old man, who was attempting suicide, by pulling him out of his car in a garage filled with carbon monoxide fumes.

"It's an honor to have him in our department," said Sgt. Mark Marino, police spokesman. "We are so proud of him and the work he has done."

Amaya has been with the Gilbert Police Department for 17 years. He started his career with the Arizona State University police in 1989.

He now oversees a patrol unit in the southern part of Gilbert, spanning from Williams Field Road to Hunt Highway.

The Lifesaver Award is one of three awards handed out by the association. The other two recognize officers for community service and valor.

"I am thankful and appreciative," Amaya said. "Oftentimes, it can be a thankless job, and the rewards are nice. But once in a while, you get a chance to do something like this, and the end result is what makes it worthwhile."

His nomination was sent to the association by his supervisors. A committee of law enforcement members from around the state will review the candidates and select winners.

There are usually three officers awarded for each of the categories, said Adam Bustos, state association president.

The awards will be presented June 21 at the Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa. The ceremony will also honor several high school students with scholarships.

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