EMT honored for saving lives in deadly Metro-North crash

CROSS RIVER, New York (WABC) -- A young woman from Westchester County was honored for her courage and quick action in the minutes after a deadly Metro-North train crash.

Riley De Jong was in that first car when the train crashed into a car in February 2015.

The brand new EMT jumped into action to help save other passengers.

It was one thing, and one thing only that helped 19-year-old De Jong survive the unimaginable horror of last year's Metro-North train crash in Valhalla when she was a passenger in the front car.

"Just the training, it goes back to the training every time," De Jong said.

De Jong not only survived the crash, she immediately put to use the EMS certification that was just a few months old.

In the midst of chaos, she took control, she used belts to stop the bleeding, she used her knowledge to delegate responsibility, and she used her heart to comfort the wounded.

"I knew how to stabilize the patients and I knew what tools I need from an ambulance, but I didn't have an ambulance on hand," De Jong said.

That clarity of mind, that maturity, that crisis management prompted Lieutenant Jim Reilly to nominate his young colleague for special recognition.

On Saturday, the Firemen's Association of the State of New York named De Jong the "2016 EMS Provider of the Year."

"There was some part of Riley that said, I have to do something. And people are counting on me, and she took over, not only administering herself but she gave directions," said Lt. Reilley, of the Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corp.

"Everyone who was involved in it deserves an award, all of the people who never signed up for this, never expected this, they went above and beyond and they really helped," De Jong said.

De Jong, now 21, has stayed in contact with the people she helped on that dreadful day.

And while she appreciates the recognition, she says it's those special relationships that mean the world to her.
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