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FDNY EMTs Stop Driver in Altered Mental State

NEW YORK -- EMS members are known for being calm under pressure -- but EMTs Thomas Staubitser and Matthew Cook from Station 4 went above and beyond on March 28, when they stopped a man in an altered mental state driving erratically in Manhattan.

"It feels lucky that we were in the right place at the right time," EMT Staubitser said.

At 5:45 p.m., the EMTs were flagged by an NYPD traffic cop at James Street and St. James Place, who said a man appeared to be having a seizure in a vehicle a few cars ahead.

Concerned for the safety of the driver and those around him, the EMTs boxed in the vehicle with their ambulance so it could not move forward.

As they were radioing dispatch to notify them of the situation, the man stepped on the gas, striking the ambulance, then sideswiped it as he pulled into the left lane's oncoming traffic.

The pair stayed with the vehicle. EMT Cook tried to reach in through the crack in the window to grab the steering wheel as EMT Staubitser tried to open the car doors. Both attempts were unsuccessful, so EMT Staubitser tried to kick in the door of the car while EMT Cook tried breaking the window.

After the window broke, the EMTs were able to turn off the vehicle, put it in park and assess the patient, who appeared to be in an altered mental state rather than suffering from a seizure.

Luckily, the car had only moved about 75 yards beyond the ambulance, because just ahead was a park filled with people.

The EMTs then called for another ambulance to respond. The man was transported to Beth Israel Hospital as the EMTs stayed behind to help police determine what happened.

"We were trying to piece it all together," EMT Staubitser said. "We were in disbelief about everything that just happened."



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