PARAMUS, N.J. — All that Paramus Police Officer Matt Lombardo knew while responding to a 2014 crash was that someone had been struck by a vehicle.
The then-Mahwah patrolman had only been on the job for two months but, thanks to his military training, didn't have to do much thinking when it came to helping the 17-year-old victim with a severed ankle.
It all came naturally that evening.
Falling back on a combat lifesaver certification course, Lombardo wrapped the teen's ankle in a tourniquet he knew he had in the patrol car. Then, he instructed the fire department to transform the highway into a landing pad for the medivac.
He knew from Black Hawk pilot training that a helicopter could land on the highway without any limitations, which allowed the teen receive a higher level of care much faster than he would've in an ambulance.
Because of Lombardo's quick action, the teenager lived to tell the tale — just with a prosthetic foot.
"Military training has been extremely valuable coming over as a police officer," said Lombardo, 27, a pilot in the U.S. National Guard. "They parallel themselves in a lot of aspects."
That he would one day become a police officer was never a question for Lombardo. His father, Bernard Lombardo, was the longtime chief of Ringwood's department.
It wasn't until 9/11 that Lombardo, then in middle school, realized he wanted to serve his country.
He spent his freshman year of college at West Point before transferring to ROTC in Providence, where he was selected for pilot school.
These days, the Black Hawk pilot tries to get in the helicopter at least twice a week.
"It's relaxing," said Lombardo, who was sworn into the Paramus Police Department via Skype while on deployment in Arizona in March.
"It’s a fun hobby. People pay a lot of money to fly on their own and I'm fortunate enough to be able to be paid to fly."
He and fellow reservists landed a helicopter on field behind the borough library earlier this month for National Night Out.
"I love flying and I love being an officer," the pilot said. "So it’s a win-win for me."