PLATTSBURGH — Adam Gonyea’s first experience at a fatal accident happened about a year after he passed the emergency medical technician test.
On Dec. 3, 2012, a car hit Charles Signaigo, who was riding his bike along Route 9 near Cumberland 12 Cinemas in the Town of Plattsburgh.
Gonyea was instructed to direct traffic around the accident site.
Passers-by slowed, trying to get a look at what had happened, he said.
“It made me upset that everyone wanted to take a peek.”
Their curiosity was putting him and other first responders in danger, he said.
“I almost got clipped a couple times by cars. I had to jump out of the way.”
So he stepped in front of Signaigo, continuing to conduct traffic while shielding wandering eyes from the tragedy.
Gonyea, 19, signed up for Cumberland Head Volunteer Fire Department/EMS on his 18th birthday and became a certified EMT in December 2011.
He began studying for the EMT test before he was 18, since candidates need only be that age when they sit for the exam, he explained.
His first year as an EMT has been a whirlwind.
“You do things that you didn’t ever think that you were capable of doing,” he said. “It’s a lot at once.”
He was recently named EMS Provider of the Year by the Clinton County Firefighters Association at the annual banquet, held at Rainbow Wedding and Banquet Hall in Altona.
Gonyea was in the airport waiting for a flight to Florida when his name was announced, though.
A phone call brought the good news.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I could not believe it.”
Stanley Russell Jr., fire chief of Ellenburg Center Volunteer Fire Department, felt the same way when his name was called for Firefighter of the Year.
“I knew nothing about it,” he said. “I was a little too stunned to say anything.”