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Jericho Firefighter Saves Driver After Heart Attack Behind the Wheel

Firefighters do periodically save lives as a part of their job, but in this case, a firefighter just happened to be passing by at the right time.

On Friday evening, April 29, John Melecio of the Jericho Fire Department, Guardian Engine Co. 2, came across a car stopped in the middle of the northbound lanes on Route 107, in front of St. Paul’s Church. He stopped to see what was going on, and found two people in the car- a male driver and a female passenger. The driver, a Huntington resident, was slumped over, unconscious. The passenger indicated to Melecio that the driver had just had a heart attack.

Melecio checked the victim, and determined that he was in cardiac arrest. An officer from Old Brookville Police Department soon arrived and was able to assist Meleccio in performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Melecio alerted the dispatcher of what was happening, and an ambulance was immediately dispatched.

Lt. and EMT-CC Julie Bracco of Rescue Co. 4, who lives right near the scene of the accident, reported to the scene immediately, where she assumed airway control and intubated the patient. Ambulance 947, consisting of Ex-Captain/EMT Robert Wener as the chauffeur, EMT-CC Sandee Sammartano of Rescue Co. 4, firefighter-paramedic John Scala of Guardian Engine Co. 2 and firefighter/EMT-CC Anand Kumar of Trident Engine Co. 3 arrived shortly as well.

The crew of the ambulance removed the victim from the car, brought him to the ambulance and began advanced life support procedures, with the assistance of a Nassau County Police Department Ambulance Bureau medical technician onboard. Several attempts to shock the victim with the use of a defibrillator restored an active pulse to the patient and he was transported to Syosset Hospital. The patient is currently recovering.

Bracco, who also works for North Shore Hospital, said that out of all the cardiac arrest cases that occur in Nassau County, only approximately five percent are saved; most patients die at the scene or in the hospital. However, she noted, Melecio- with no medical training other than his knowledge of CPR- was able to save a life. If Melecio had not begun CPR immediately, restoring oxygen to the brain and heart, it is unlikely that the patient would have survived.

Bracco said this just goes to show how valuable it is to know CPR. “Everyone should be aware of [how to do] CPR, because there may come a time when they can save another person,” she said.

Each member of the team involved in the life-saving effort was recently awarded a citation by fire department chief David Ginzburg at the annual department installation dinner.

“I am very proud of the job all our volunteers do for our community on a daily basis; however, when their actions directly lead to someone being brought back from certain death, allowing them to return home and enjoy life again with their family and friends, that is something special,” said Ginzburg.