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Team Effort Saved Heart Attack Victim

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.-- A stopped heart, a group of strangers, a team effort, a heroic rescue, a life saved.

Ten quick-thinking firefighters and emergency medical technicians were honored Friday for their rescue of a woman in cardiac arrest.

Just after midnight on July 9, an 81-year-old Florida woman visiting her family suffered a heart attack in the upstairs bathroom of her daughter's Tottenville home. Her son-in-law, himself an EMT, began performing CPR until firefighters from nearby Engine Co. 151 arrived.

Lt. John Travers moved the woman out into the hallway and took over CPR. Firefighters Neil Sgambati, Randy Lotz, John Marsh and Andy Gilmore applied a defibrillator and administered three shocks.

The EMS crew arrived within minutes, and Lt. Marc Samuels, Anna Gray, Nicholas Damante, Henry Cordero and Roberto Silveria took over, providing aid, inserting an IV and transporting the patient to the hospital.

"It was a real coordinated effort," said Chief Michael Feminella of the 21st Battalion in Rosebank, who commended the rescuers during the Advance Firefighter of the Month awards ceremony yesterday in Engine 151's Tottenville firehouse.

After the woman was shocked, her vital signs returned, and "she wanted to get back up and walk around," Samuels recalled. "She wanted to get off the stretcher."

"At least she came back, and her family still has her, and now she's back in Florida enjoying the nice weather," Silveria said.

"Everything worked out well," Travers said.

Though firefighters and EMTs perform similar acts of heroism every day, this rescue was particularly special because the firefighters had never worked together before.

With a shortage of firefighters at the Tottenville house that night, a group of backups was cobbled together from other houses on Staten Island and Brooklyn to join Sgambati, the only member of Engine 151 on duty. Travers came from Battalion 22; Lotz from Engine Co. 162, Great Kills, and Gilmore from Ladder Co. 114, Brooklyn.

"We met each other that night," said Marsh of Engine Co. 247, Brooklyn.

Though they started the evening as strangers, the men formed a great team. "They're a real credit to the training from the Fire Department," Feminella said.

And though such calls might seem routine to EMTs, "Just saving one life makes the whole job worthwhile," Silveria said.

Maura Yates is a news reporter for the Advance. She may be reached at myates@siadvance.com

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