February 02, 2010
By Pillarisetti Sudhir
Dwelling as they usually do in dark and dusty archives or hallowed halls of academe, historians are not often linked to deeds of derring-do and bravery. But AHA member James Coll was recently in Haiti after the devastating earthquake there, and helped to save at least six lives, it has been reported.
Coll, an adjunct professor of history and social sciences at the Nassau County Community College and the Suffolk County Community College (both in New York State), and who also works as a detective in the New York Police Department’s elite emergency squad, was a part of the 40-member emergency rescue team that went from the NYPD to Haiti after the earthquake. As a member of a special, hand-picked rescue team, Coll helped to search through the rubble, and the team was able to rescue a few of those trapped underneath the dangerous debris.
Facing danger to rescue people is nothing new to Coll. He was in the NYPD team that went to help when the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 did an emergency landing on the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 (which we mentioned in the September 2009 Members column of Perspectives on History). For that display of bravery and altruism in the line of duty, he was presented with a certificate of honor by New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and the CEO of US Airways, Doug Parker.