Sunday, August 31, 2008

Heroes Honored at EMS Appreciation Day

RYE — Off-duty North Castle police Sgt. James Cuffe was on his way to a Jets game with fiancee Luci Labriola last September when they came upon a car accident on the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Cuffe and Labriola pulled over to the median area to see whether the couple in the damaged vehicle needed help. Labriola went to check on the woman while Cuffe approached the man. Within minutes, Cuffe said he could tell the man was "a little out of it."
"He started to pace," Cuffe said.
Then, with little warning, the man began running toward the side of the bridge, apparently intending to jump off and commit suicide, said Cuffe, who ran after the man and tackled him.
"I picked him up and carried him back over to the median," said Cuffe, adding that he restrained the man until emergency responders arrived.
Last night, Cuffe was honored with a meritorious service award from the Westchester Regional EMS Council. He was among dozens of emergency responders recognized as part of an EMS Appreciation Day ceremony held at Playland Amusement Park.
"On behalf of all the residents of Westchester County, we thank you from the bottom of our heart," said Westchester County Legislator Peter Harckham, D-Katonah.
Although Cuffe never knew what happened to the man he saved, Roland Faucher, an EMT with the Mohegan Volunteer Fire Association, last night shook hands with Jacob Klang, the man he helped save in November at the Ohr Hameir Theological Seminary in Cortlandt.
"The last time we saw him, he wasn't even talking," Faucher said of Klang, who came to the event to thank the emergency responders who saved his life.
On Nov. 7, Klang, 38, was standing in a classroom holding study hall when he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. As some students called 911, others began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation for nearly 10 minutes until Faucher and paramedics arrived to take over. The paramedics were persistent in their efforts to save him, going above and beyond what other responders would have done, Klang said.
"They were persistent and kept going," he said. "There are others who would have stopped."
Faucher said the save was a classic example of what to do in the case of cardiac arrest - namely, the importance of starting CPR immediately.
"Very seldom do we have the pleasure of such a save," he said.
Surrounded by his wife and children, Klang said he was feeling healthy and more appreciative of life.
"He did a nice job for us," Faucher said. "He came back. With a nice family like this, why wouldn't he?"
(By Hoa Nguyen, The Journal News)

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