MICHAEL NEVITT IS devoted to his community. Since 2005, he has been a volunteer emergency medical technician for the Keyport First Aid Squad.
He has responded to more than 750 911 calls in that time, including cardiac arrests, shootings and fires.
During Superstorm Sandy, Nevitt rescued Keyport and Union Beach residents from their flooded homes and assisted in the evacuation of two senior citizen apartment complexes. Even after the storm waters subsided, he kept working, caring for displaced residents living in a local school that had been converted into a shelter.
For these good deeds and many more, Nevitt – a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation – was recently awarded the 2015 William H. Webster Award, an honor bestowed by the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI.
The award comes with a $5,000 honorarium, which he put back into the squad where he has donated so many hours.
The award is given every year to an active-duty FBI special agent who engages in “exemplary public or humanitarian service” outside of their regular job duties. The award is named for former FBI Director William H. Webster, who presided over the agency from 1978 through 1987.
In addition to his work as a first responder, Nevitt was also recognized for coordinating a fund drive letter for the Keyport First Aid Squad and for securing a grant for a carbon monoxide oximeter, which is essential in cases where carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, according to a letter nominating him for the award.
For the past three years, Nevitt has also participated in the Police Unity Tour, a charity effort in which police officers bike to Washington, D.C, to raise awareness of officers who have died in the line of duty and raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and Museum. As part of his efforts, Nevitt and his team have organized a cornhole tournament that raised over $6,000 its inaugural year.
The Keyport Anchor recently spoke to Nevitt about his work with the community, his experience during Sandy and why he loves living in Keyport. Below is a lightly edited version of that interview:
Did you grow up in Keyport?
I did not grow up in Keyport. I moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. in 2004 and lived with my sister and her family. When they moved to Keyport in 2005, I moved with them and have been here ever since. So I guess you could say Keyport kind of chose me since my sister was offering me a place to stay and she was moving here.
What do you like about living in Keyport?
I like the small town atmosphere. Something I wasn’t expecting to find up here in the North when I was moving up from South Carolina. I have seen this community really come together at critical times to support each other and the surrounding towns without complaint.
You’ve been a dedicated member of the Keyport First Aid Squad since 2005, volunteering approximately 10 hours every week. How did you get involved, and why have you chosen to devote so much time and energy to this organization?
I’ve been a firefighter since 1997 and have always wanted to become an EMT. At work we have an Operational Medicine Program that provides medical support to different Bureau operations, events, arrests, et cetera. I saw this as an opportunity to broaden my involvement in public service along with giving me a different, often some times exciting collateral duty at work. So through work I became an EMT and then a paramedic. As a part of maintaining my certification at work I need to participate in at least eight hours of clinical time a month —this means I need to actually see patients. I thought a great way to do this along with getting involved in my community and giving back was to join the Keyport First Aid. Over the years I have become a line officer and helped with other administrative and educational duties around the squad. I devote as much time as I do because I enjoy giving back to my community and making sure that the free emergency medical services we provide to Keyport and the surrounding towns stays free.
You were on the front lines of the rescue effort during Superstorm Sandy. What was your role in those efforts?
First off my role in the rescue efforts after Superstorm Sandy was just a small part of a huge effort by the Keyport First Aid, Keyport Fire Department, Keyport Police Department, CERT, many individual community members and many, many more people. A few of the things that I helped with as a part of the squad were the evacuation of both senior high-rises in Keyport, assisting Union Beach by deploying one of our boats to help with rescues and helping set up and staff the shelter that was located at the Keyport Central School. I eventually had to go back to work and could only give a little time to staffing the shelter but there were a bunch of people that stayed there until everyone was returned to their residences and the shelter was closed.
Are there any moments from that time – good or bad – that stand out for you?
During the storm I remember there being so much going on, so many people needing help that it was impossible to get to everyone and every thing at the same time. It was one of those times where you wanted to or needed to be at multiple places at the same time and it just wasn’t possible. Probably the biggest thing that stands out for me and it’s definitely a good thing, is how our little town came together to help each other out along with helping Union Beach any way we could.
You have also been very involved in participating in, and raising money for, the Police Unity Tour. Why is this an important cause for you?
The whole idea behind the Police Unity Tour is to raise awareness for line of duty deaths of law enforcement officers and to raise money for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and Museum. Working in law enforcement since 2002 and public safety in general since 1997, it’s never been more evident than now that we have our own little community much like in Keyport and it’s important that we take care of our own. That is why it is important to me.
Volunteer service is clearly an integral part of your life. Do you think volunteerism is essential for a community and, if so, why?
I do think it is essential and without volunteers our town wouldn’t have a fire or EMS service among other things. Not only does volunteering provide some very valuable services to a community it also helps people take some ownership in their community and make the community better as a whole.