Wednesday, May 20 the 21st annual Second Chance Ceremony was held at the FDNY Training Academy on Randall’s Island. This event reunites eleven survivors of cardiac arrest with the Paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), FDNY EMS Officers, Firefighters, bystanders and other first responders who helped save their lives.
“Each of the survivors we welcome for this wonderful ceremony to celebrate National EMS Week 2015 would not be with us if not for the calm, professional response that is a hallmark of FDNY EMTs, Paramedics and Firefighters,” said Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “More than 1.6 million times last year alone FDNY members responded to emergencies; bringing their life-saving training to those who needed it most.”
In the 20 years that this ceremony has been held, more than 200 survivors have been reunited with the FDNY members who saved their lives. This year, the eleven survivors include two people visiting New York City on vacation, a woman attending mass in Queens, a man playing softball in Brooklyn and an FDNY Fire Alarm Dispatcher who was dispatching FDNY units to emergencies in Brooklyn.
“I love New York City, it is the city that saved my life,” said Brittany Williams, who experienced cardiac arrest in a restaurant while vacationing with her parents in Manhattan. She was aided by two bystanders on-scene, before Firefighters from Engine Company 23, Paramedics and EMTs from Mt. Sinai and a Lieutenant from Station 10 arrived minutes later.
Another survivor at the ceremony was Gabriel Hernandez who collapsed while standing on the street in the Bronx. Onlookers flagged-down an FDNY ambulance passing nearby, which was being driven by a newly graduated EMT – Fernando Frias. EMT Frias who was off-duty and returning the ambulance to his station alone, began CPR on Mr. Hernandez. He was soon joined in his efforts by Firefighters from Engine Company 68, Paramedics from Station 14, an officer from Station 17, and EMTs from Bronx Lebanon Hospital. Together, they were able to restore Mr. Hernandez’s pulse and breathing.
“At any moment, the call comes in that there’s a patient in cardiac arrest – and that’s the most critical medical call we receive,” said Chief of Department James E. Leonard. “And we will do everything we can to save that person.”
Five of the survivors received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from bystanders before on-duty FDNY members arrived. Immediate CPR, coupled with defibrillation within the first few minutes after sudden cardiac arrest, can greatly increase a victim’s chance of survival. This year, thanks to support from the FDNY Foundation, the FDNY Mobile CPR Training Unit trained its 100,000th person to perform bystander CPR.
For more information about learning bystander CPR for free from the FDNY Mobile CPR Training Unit, call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/fdny/cpr
J Gabriel Hernandez was standing on Ogden Avenue in the Bronx on
March 6, 2015, when he collapsed without warning. At that
moment, an ambulance driven by rookie FDNY Emergency
Medical Technician Fernando Frias was flagged down by bystanders.
This was his first week in the field and he was returning to EMS Station 17, no longer in service and without his partner; however, whenever flagged, an FDNY ambulance must stop to help. EMT Frias did not hesitate to perform his sworn duty.
EMT Frias found Mr. Hernandez with no pulse and initiated CPR.
Minutes later, Captain Michael Nigro and Firefighters Jason Davis,
Michael Ryan, Kevin Fitzpatrick and Paul Castle of Engine Company
68 arrived to assist. Together they applied one shock from the external defibrillator and continued CPR until Paramedics Kevin Bratholt and Luke Hardcastle from EMS Station 14 arrived to administer advanced care. After multiple defibrillator shocks, Mr. Hernandez regained his pulse, began breathing on his own and was able to speak and answer questions.
Lieutenant Joseph Pastor of EMS Station 17 and Emergency Medical Technicians Kelsey Paulino and Kenny Rosario of Bronx Lebanon Hospital arrived to assist with the transport of Mr. Hernandez to Bronx Lebanon Hospital. Thanks to a quick-thinking rookie and a quick-responding team of veteran FDNY members, Mr. Hernandez is doing well and enjoying his second chance.
David Jacobs was walking with his family on Manhattan’s East
side on June 19, 2014 when he collapsed. He was barely breathing
and had lost his pulse. Nearby Engine Company 5 was the first to respond. Lieutenant Christian Childs and Firefighters Gary Stegmeier, Peter Santiago, Eric Schaming and Christopher Connolly began CPR and administered one shock with the external defibrillator. They were soon joined by FDNY Emergency Medical Technicians Alexis Ward and Abraham Kasner of EMS Station 8, Paramedics Gregory Floyd and Timothy Janis of EMS Station 4 and Lieutenant Bernard Pogrebinsky of EMS Station 10. Together, the members on scene worked side-by-side to restore Mr. Jacobs’ pulse to the point where he could speak.
Once in the ambulance to be transported, Mr. Jacobs’ heart stopped beating and he was once again in cardiac arrest. The Paramedics shocked him for a second time, restored his pulse yet again and brought him to Beth Israel Medical Center for continued care. FDNY units from four different facilities across Manhattan worked tirelessly to save Mr. Jacobs’ life. Thanks to their tenacity and refusal to quit, he is alive, well, and making the most of his second chance.
FDNY Fire Alarm Dispatcher (FAD) Sherri Johnson-Campbell
was on-duty dispatching FDNY units in Brooklyn when she
began to have a seizure on August 8, 2014. Fellow FDNY members responded immediately to assist FAD Johnson-Campbell. They found her with a weak pulse and barely breathing.
Lieutenant Edgar Baez and EMT Herbert Kammerman of Emergency Medical Dispatch began patient care, but within moments, she had stopped breathing and slipped into cardiac arrest. CPR was initiated and an external defibrillator was applied.
Numerous FDNY members working in Emergency Medical Dispatch that day raced to FAD Johnson-Campbell’s side including Captains Rudy Medina and Gaetano Lazzara; Lieutenants Evelyn Rios, Inmaculada Gattas, and Tracy Joseph; and Emergency Medical Technicians Lance Winfield, John Amore, Scott Funk, Anthony Ranieri, Daynar Castro and Decosta Wright. Despite this chaotic and emotional situation, FDNY members continued to respond to 911 calls and dispatch field units to medical emergencies and fires.
After a shock with the external defibrillator, return of spontaneous circulation was achieved as Paramedics Bryant Gutierrez and Lothaire Germain from EMS Station 31 arrived. The Paramedics provided advance life support efforts and worked with Emergency Medical Technicians Luis Paulino and Juan Toledo of Brooklyn Hospital and FDNY Lieutenant Brian Smith to transport FAD Johnson-Campbell to Brooklyn Hospital.
When one of their own was in need, FDNY members responded in the calm, cool and professional manner that is a hallmark of the
Department. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of the men and women she works closely with every single day to keep New York City safe, FAD Sherri Johnson-Campbell is back at work, helping FDNY units reach those in need and enjoying her second chance at life.
Richard Johnson was with his wife on the morning of June 24, 2013, when, without warning, he collapsed in his home. His wife wasted no time and called 911 for help.
Minutes later, Paramedics Festus Ogude and Enrique Arroyo of Mt. Sinai Roosevelt Hospital responded to find Mr. Johnson barely breathing. They provided oxygen and, using a cardiac monitor, found his heart was in a lethal cardiac rhythm. Two shocks were administered using an external defibrillator.
FDNY Lieutenant Kevin Mazuzan of EMS Station 7 arrived to supervise the operation. They were joined by Emergency Medical
Technicians Paul Soto and Lea Vasquez of Mt. Sinai Roosevelt
Hospital. Working together, the responding units gave Mr. Johnson
intravenous medications, cold saline and inserted a breathing tube.
After ten minutes of difficult, life-saving work, Mr, Johnson’s heart
began beating again. He was transported to the Bellevue Hospital
where a specialized procedure allowed doctors to quickly open the
blockage in his arteries.
Thanks to quick response and outstanding effort that morning by so
many medical professionals, Mr. Johnson is alive and well, with a second chance.
Gregory Moquin of North Chesterfield, Virginia was visiting family in New York City on February 22, 2014. That night, chest pains woke him from his sleep in his Manhattan hotel room. Due to the severe pain he was experiencing and his medical history of cardiac issues, he called the front desk and asked that they call 911.
Several minutes later, Emergency Medical Technicians Michael Delsorbo and James Acevedo of EMS Station 4 arrived to begin a patient assessment of Mr. Moquin. They found he was displaying symptoms of Myocardial Infraction. Paramedics Kam Wong and Gregory Floyd, also of EMS Station 4, arrived soon after and initiated advanced care, including cardiac monitoring, which showed there was a critical blockage in his heart.
Paramedics Floyd and Wong contacted FDNY On-Line Medical Control to receive further patient care instructions. Working with EMTs Delsorbo and Acevedo, they transported Mr. Moquin to Bellevue Hospital. Upon entering the Emergency Room, Mr. Moquin’s heart stopped beating. The FDNY members immediately began CPR and shocked him once with their external defibrillator in an attempt to restart his heart. They continued CPR until doctors and nurses from the hospital assumed care of Mr. Moquin.
The team of Paramedics and EMTs who answered the call that night demonstrated that the FDNY stands ready to respond to help every person who lives in, works in and visits New York City. Thanks to the
timely response and accurate patient assessment, Mr. Moquin received the advance care needed in his hotel room – and at the hospital – that gave him his second chance.
Laura Murphy was not feeling well on the morning of Monday,
March 31, 2014. Home with her husband, she made the decision
to call out sick from work. Minutes later, she took a drastic
turn for the worse and was in cardiac arrest. Her husband quickly
called 911 for help.
Captain Michael Smithwick and Firefighters Christopher Dunic, Richard Garcia, James Reichman, John McCoy and William Long Squad Company 288 were in Ms. Murphy’s home shortly after that call, finding her with no pulse and not breathing. They initiated CPR and shocked her once with the external defibrillator.
Next through the door were FDNY Paramedics Vanessa Tenorio and Michele Baiocco and Emergency Medical Technicians Andrey Kirichenko and Joseph Segot, all from EMS Station 45. Together, they continued CPR, administered an additional defibrillator shock and provided intravenous medications. The collective efforts of all who responded helped restore Ms. Murphy’s pulse and breathing.
With the assistance of Lieutenant William Duncklee of EMS Station 46, Ms. Murphy was transported to Elmhurst Hospital where she made a full recovery. Thanks to tremendous effort from every responding FDNY member that morning, Ms. Murphy is back at work, doing well and enjoying her second chance.
Carlos Reyes was on the mound pitching for his softball team in
the early morning on Sunday, April 13, 2014, when he suddenly
collapsed. His teammates called 911.
Within minutes, Captain Thomas Smith and Firefighters James Becker, Adam Reichert, Tom Leanza and Chris Tufano from Engine Company 309 arrived to find Mr. Reyes in cardiac arrest. They immediately began CPR and administered two shocks from their automatic external defibrillator.
The members of Engine Company 309 were joined by Lieutenant Moshe Klein of EMS Station 43, Paramedics Lionel Roman and Vladimir Nikulin of EMS Station 43, and Emergency Medical Technicians Eugenia Carrero and Lauren Norris of New York Community Hospital who worked together to continue care for Mr. Reyes. Paramedics Roman and Nikulin began advanced life support, intubating Mr. Reyes and providing intravenous medications and cardiac monitoring as he was transported to Lutheran Medical Center.
Thanks to the teamwork of all involved – from his teammates to those who responded to the call for help – Mr. Reyes is feeling better, enjoying his second chance and working hard to get back on the field.
Sharon Rhodie attended church with her mother on January 26,
2014 in Queens despite the fact that she was not feeling well.
Inside the Deliverance Baptist Church, her condition worsened
and she fell to the floor in cardiac arrest.
Attending the same mass were four nurses – Kerry Stewart, Gwen
Cockrane, Linda Cockrane-Hill and Sandra White Lowman – who came to Ms. Rhodie’s side to perform CPR. They were joined by Lieutenant George Murphy and Firefighters Laurence Mooney, Vincent Schieda, Christopher Scott and Ralph Miller of Engine Company 317 as well as Lieutenant Wilfredo Silvestry of EMS Station 45. The FDNY members took over CPR and delivered multiple shocks with an external defibrillator.
FDNY Paramedics Vijay Rampersad and Joel Orr from EMS Station 47 were the next arriving members to the scene. They initiated advanced life support efforts and administered additional defibrillator shocks.
Working closely with Emergency Medical Technicians Reginald
McLaurin-Bey and Raz-Giem Graves, they restored Ms. Rhodie’s
heartbeat before she arrived at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
Ten FDNY members and four Good Samaritans joined together to save Ms. Rhodie’s life that day. Thanks to their incredible efforts, she now has a second chance.
Howard Rosenbluth was in line to see a show at the Gramercy Theater when he collapsed in front of a large crowd of theatergoers
on September 16, 2014.
Luckily for Mr. Rosenbluth, off-duty Firefighter Luke Jackson of Engine Company 3 was waiting in that same line. Firefighter Jackson immediately sprang into action, asking a friend to call 911, securing an external defibrillator from a security guard at the theater and performing CPR. After minutes of CPR and one shock with the defibrillator by Firefighter Jackson, Mr. Rosenbluth became responsive again.
Lieutenant Eugene McConnell and Firefighters Guy Kirschberg, John Dilillo, Richard Nix and Markus Geis of Engine Company 14;
Paramedics Timothy Anson and Robert Persaud of EMS Station 8 and Lieutenant Wa-il Eldahry of EMS Station 20 joined Firefighter Jackson to continue patient care. Paramedics Anson and Persaud provided intravenous medications and cardiac monitoring and transported Mr. Rosenbluth to Bellevue hospital.
Thanks to the Firefighter Jackson’s commitment to duty and the quick response of so many FDNY members, Mr. Rosenbluth’s life was saved and he was given a second chance.
Joseph Shelmet was in Penn Station, headed home from work,
when, while entering the train, he felt dizzy and fell to the floor.
Many bystanders and first responders would quickly come to his
First to his side were two of his co-workers; Karen Ronan, a nurse, and Kim Vida. They initiated CPR, and continued until Amtrak Police
Officers Jean Dorcely, Michael Eib and Joseph Nativo arrived with an external defibrillator. The Officers continued CPR and administered one shock before the arrival of Lieutenant Robert Wilson and Firefighters Martin Lydon, Russell Bakunas, David Struble and Robert Rivera from Engine Company 1.
The arriving Firefighters provided oxygen and continued care until Mr. Shelmet’s respirations and pulse were restored. Paramedics Daniel Riccobono and Starsky Von Prime from EMS Station 7 were next on scene, finding Mr. Shelmet disoriented, but able to speak. They provided advanced care, administering intravenous fluids and cardiac monitoring.
Emergency Medical Technicians Filomena DeLeon and Samuel Hernandez, as well as Lieutenant Jeff Krulfeifer, all of EMS Station 7 assisted with transporting Mr. Shelmet to NYU Medical Center to receive additional care.
Thanks to the quick response of his co-workers, law enforcement officers and FDNY members, Mr. Shelmet is alive and well and enjoying his second chance.
Brittany Williams was in New York City for a vacation and having
lunch with her family on December 6, 2014 when she began
to have difficulty breathing and collapsed onto the floor of the
Eating at the same restaurant were Dr. Nicholas Farber and Dr. Brandon Johnson, who ran to her side. Without a moment’s hesitation, they began to perform CPR – a decision that would help save Ms. Williams’ life.
Minutes later, Lieutenant Anthony Perciavalle and Firefighters Michael Imperio, Anthony Bertolini, Barnard Randall and Patrice Castor of Engine Company 23 arrived to take over CPR and deliver a shock from an external defibrillator which restored her heartbeat.
The Doctors and Firefighters were soon joined by Paramedics Eric
Unterman and David West and Emergency Medical Technicians Andrea DeSalvo and Eugine Morabito of Mt Sinai Roosevelt Hospital, who, along with FDNY Lieutenant George Kroustallis, continued care of Ms. Williams and transported her to Mt. Sinai Roosevelt Hospital. After nine days in the hospital, Ms. Williams had improved and was well enough to return home to Tallahassee, Florida.
Thanks to bystander CPR and so many highly-trained Firefighters,
Paramedics and EMTs, Ms. Williams is back home and enjoying her
second chance at life.