For Falls Police Officer Walt Nichols, it was a chance to meet the people who saved his life.

For Officer Mike Bird, it was a second chance to say thank you to the paramedics, firefighters, doctors and nurses who rallied to his aid in the early morning hours of Feb. 7.

Nichols and Bird had the chance to offer their appreciation as the Falls Police Club, the union that represents officers and detectives in the Cataract City police department, held a ceremony at Memorial Medical Center Friday to honor those who were involved in treating the officers who were wounded in a gun battle with a domestic violence suspect.

“Mike got to meet the people that night,” Nichols said with a smile. “I was kind of out of it, so it was nice to be able to see them today and shake their hands.”

The veteran traffic officer was hit with a blast of birdshot from a shotgun that struck him between the panels of his bulletproof vest. He underwent emergency surgery and doctors removed birdshot pellets around his heart and stomach.

He still has some pellets lodged in his heart.

Bird was also hits by pellets, with one lodging in his cheek. He said Friday, his most vivid memory form that night was of a Memorial nurse “sticking him with needles.”

“I hate needles,” he laughed, “and I kept shifting around and finally she said to me, ‘You’re afraid of needles and you just got shot?’ ”

If Bird and Nichols were happy to see those who helped them, the doctors, nurses and first responders were equally happy to see the two officers looking healthy and recovering from their wounds.

I really want to thank the Niagara Falls police for putting this on, this is a really nice reception for us,” said Dr. Gerald Gorman, the emergency room physician to treated the officers. “You never know the impact you’re going to make on a person’s life. We consider the police department part of our extended family. It is so gratifying to see the officers walking and you almost wouldn’t know what happened to them.”

Gorman praised the work of not only the medical team that worked with him, but also the efforts of Rural Metro paramedic and firefighters.

“(The paramedics) did an amazing job stabilizing everyone,” Gorman said.

Paramedics Lance Smeal and Amy Hanne were at the medical center when the shooting started and raced to the scene on South Avenue.

“It was nerve wracking,” Smeal said. “But it’s a tribute to Rural Metro and the fire department and the hospital how everyone involved came together.”

Hanne modestly said, “This is our job, it’s what we do.”

Though both paramedics said it was “nice” to be recognized for their work.

Falls Fire Capt. Gary Rajczak had a similar reaction. Rajczak and his men were first on the scene, which he called “controlled chaos.”

“We’re all basically a team (police and fire), One helps the other and that’s what we did that night,” Rajczak said. “Your training takes over and you do what you’re supposed to do. It’s nice to be (recognized),, but we’re happy with just ding our jobs.”

Contact reporter Rick Pfeiffer

at 282-2311, ext. 2252.

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