MFD honors local business' employees in back-to-back years

Posted at 10:00 PM, Oct 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-13 23:18:21-04

MILWAUKEE -- When it comes to saving lives, a north side Milwaukee business might just have the emergency responders beat.

An auto dealer with just seven employees has had two of its workers honored by the Milwaukee Fire Department. A mechanic at Hart's Auto earned the Community's Hero Award last year, and the office manager received it Thursday night.

Earlier this year,  Christine Gaspardo was working in the office when someone burst in yelling for help. A woman was on the sidewalk, not breathing.

"She was actually purple and blue by the time I got to her," said Gaspardo.

The man who was with her ran off. But Gaspardo sprang into action. She started CPR and had someone call 911. Gaspardo was not even sure if the woman was still alive but she knew she had to try.

"I'm just going to do what I need to do to hopefully bring her back," said Gaspardo.

She kept the woman alive until rescuers got there. When they left, the woman was awake.

The year before, it wasn't Gaspardo who was saving lives, but mechanic Luke Czuma. He and the owner of Hart's Auto, Larry Rowell, ran into a burning house. 

"When I went into that burning building with Luke and I'd seen the smoke, I couldn't go no farther," said Rowell describing the fire. "I lost my breath right away. But Luke crawled on his hands and knees to the bedroom all the way to where the child was at."

Czuma directed firefighters to the bedroom, where a 10-year-old child with autism refused to leave.

"You don't think about it, you just want to help somebody," said Czuma.

Last year, Czuma won the Milwaukee Fire Department citizen award. This year he watched as the honor went to Gaspardo. Rowell just cannot believe what his employees have done for the community.

"What are the odds of that happening?" said Rowel. "They both went out of their way to save people's lives."

Gaspardo says she doesn't know who the woman she saved is, or how she is doing. But she hopes one day they can meet.