Center for Excellence Honoree: Dominick RileyIn the past six years, Quinnipiac University security officer Dominick "Dan" Riley has helped save the lives of three people on campus whose injuries or illnesses were so severe that they were on the brink of death.
"I really don't think about it a lot, it's just part of my job," Riley said. "I'm glad that I had the knowledge and was at the right place at the right time. It feels great to be able to save a life because as an EMT you know how easily things can turn the other way. As an officer, you use your ability and do whatever you can to help someone."
Riley, a security officer at Quinnipiac for nine years, is one of three employees who received an award for Excellence in Service to Students at a dinner in the Recreation Center on Oct. 19.
In 2000, Riley came to the aid of a student who had fallen and suffered severe facial injures that made it extremely difficult for him to breathe.
"I recognized that if we turned him over he would have aspirated on the blood and died," Riley said. He was able to secure an airway for him to breathe. "I've since seen him, and he's doing well."
In March 2002, Riley responded to a report of a student who had put his fist through a glass door, severing an artery in his forearm with the broken glass. Riley found the student in a semiconscious state as a result of blood loss. Riley stopped the bleeding and treated the student for shock.
In February 2005, a campus visitor became ill and fell to the ground near the quad. "He was acting as if he were drunk," Riley said. "But I asked his friend if he had a history of diabetes and she said 'yes.' He had become extremely hypoglycemic. He was in big trouble. We got him orange juice and calmed him down. Soon he was like brand new."
David Barger, assistant chief of security, said Riley has distinguished himself on a daily basis in the execution of his duties as a security officer. His medical knowledge has been an enormous benefit to the university, since often a security officer arrives at a medical crisis before ambulance personnel.
Riley decided to become an EMT seven years ago although it isn't required as part of his Quinnipiac job. In addition to helping Quinnipiac students and staff, he serves on the Northford ambulance crew. Although he said his adrenaline gets pumping at an emergency, he learned long ago that if he's not in control he can't help anyone else.
Barger said Riley has built a strong working relationship with students, peers and superiors.
"Riley's job performance and the expertise he brings to the job contribute to a safe environment for the students, campus and Quinnipiac community as a whole," Barger wrote in a letter of nomination. "A student cannot function or flourish in an educational setting less he/she feels safe."
Riley attended West Haven High School but left before graduation to join the Army. He served two years in the U.S. with the 101st Airborne.
"It was a good learning process," he said. "You develop quickly. When you step off the bus and hit the pavement, you're in a new world. It has helped me in life-I learned perseverance, determination and that there's nothing I can't do if I put my mind to it."
After he completed his Army tour he went to work for Wells Fargo for 19 years. He began his career there as an ATM tech, moved on to the armored division, then became a vault supervisor, manager, internal auditor and ultimately conducted detective work, reconstructing robberies. After retiring from that job, he joined the Quinnipiac force.
Working in security at Quinnipiac is "like having your own kids," said Riley, 49. "You're trying to teach kids to do the right thing. I get along well with them and they talk to me like a father."
Riley said he loves security work and the range of activities it brings. He might be assisting with a medical call one moment and investigating a theft the next. He could be checking to make sure a building is locked up tight one minute and breaking up a fight the next.
Riley has six children of his own, ranging in age from 12 to 30. He lives in Northford with his wife, Eleanor.
In his free time, Riley plays competitive softball, averaging about 120 games a season. He is a former hockey player and enjoys working on construction projects.
Riley describes himself as a "people person."
"I get along well with anybody and find it easy to make conversation," he said. The majority of the students are "good kids," he said. "There's a small percentage who will test you."
If he has to question students he usually takes the direct approach. "They may have broken a window or taken a sign down," he said. "I tell them if they're straight with me upfront they'll be a lot better off than if they start lying. I don't sugarcoat anything. But I will tell them if they broke the window, it isn't the end of the world."
Riley said he was proud to be selected for Excellence in Service to Students but quickly added that it is recognition for the entire security department. Although the security officers aren't in the spotlight in the way that professors are, they play an important role at the university, he said.
He credits his supervisors for improving the department and adding well-qualified officers to the force.
One of Riley's favorite days of the year is Commencement.
"You see the students coming in as freshmen and then, before you know it, you see them graduate," he said. "It's nice to see them starting their lives and going into the real world. The graduation days-those are really nice."