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Calif. paramedic/firefighter racks up accolades

TRACY, Calif. The awards keep getting heaped upon a guy who insists he's just doing his job.

It must mean he's doing his job really well.

Tracy firefighter Michael Oliveri was named a recipient of the American Legion's Award of Merit on Monday, two weeks after he was given special recognition by the Tracy City Council for his life-saving actions on a flight to Modesto six weeks ago.

Of the four award winners, Oliveri is the only firefighter.

"It's humbling because you work and think you're never recognized, never made a change or impacted anything," Oliveri said. "Obviously I found my thing, I'm making a difference and succeeding. It's nice this is all happening. It draws attention to what the department does and the impact we have on the community."

Oliveri is expected to receive his honor at the Law and Order Awards Ceremony during the American Legion's annual convention Friday in Palm Springs.

Earlier this year, he was named the department's Firefighter of the Year for his help in spearheading the Advanced Life-Saving program in Tracy, which is putting paramedics on fire vehicles. He was also selected by the Tracy American Legion as the South San Joaquin County Firefighter of the Year.

Tracy Fire Chief Chris Bosch said Oliveri was "very deserving" of the awards.

"This is a great example of Mike's commitment to the fire department and emergency medical services as well," Bosch said. "We're really proud. This is a good testimony of his commitment to his family, the community, and his career. He's a great guy."

On a flight from Los Angeles to Modesto in early May, Oliveri was returning from an advanced life-saving seminar in Las Vegas when a woman seated behind him began experiencing "a medical emergency."

Oliveri identified himself as a paramedic-trained firefighter and offered his services to the flight attendant. After the flight's captain checked his identification and certification cards, Oliveri was given a first aid kit kept on board the plane, which is very similar to the type Tracy firefighters carry on their engines.

He said the woman was very sick and told the flight attendant the pilot needed to land the plane. His actions are credited with saving the woman's life.

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