Quick-acting N.Y. poll worker saves a life in CPR rescue
Robert Ramsey, 78, collapsed on June 19 and was revived by Elections Surveyor Michael Arvanites who started CPR
Ann Marie Barron
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A beloved poll worker is heart-healthy today after suffering cardiac arrest, thanks to a quick-acting co-worker's CPR efforts on an early-voting day in June.
Robert Ramsey, 78, was working at the election polls at Staten Island Technical High School on June 19 when he stepped outside for a break and collapsed.
Fortunately, Elections Surveyor Michael Arvanites had stopped by the location in his role as — of all things — a troubleshooter.
Arvanites performed CPR after being alerted to the situation by Sahana Masum, one of the site coordinators. She and State Assemblyman Michael J. Cusick had caught Ramsey as he fell, he recalled. The location is Cusick's polling place, and he'd come by to vote.
"I put my ear to his chest, couldn't hear a heartbeat," Arvanites recalled. "I started hand-only CPR and he came out of it and grabbed my arm. Right around then, Mike Cusick had flagged down the firefighters and they took over."
Carolina Ramsey credited Arvanites for saving her husband's life.
"Mike came running out, he's an Eagle Scout," she said. "The CPR revived him. He was dead."
Once transported by ambulance to Staten Island University Hospital, Robert Ramsey received emergency treatment, then underwent coronary bypass and aortic valve replacement surgery on June 25 with Dr. Mohammad Imam, a hospital spokesperson confirmed.
"If it wasn't for Mike, he'd be dead," Carolina Ramsey stressed. "It just happened the right way. Not many people come back from this. The doctors and nurses in the ICU were fantastic."
His good health now allows Ramsey the opportunity to spend time with his daughter, Celina, and three granddaughters, Adelina, 5, MacKenzie, 3, and Scarlett, 1, whose South Carolina home the couple plans to move closer to next year.
Arvanites, 45, who learned CPR as an Eagle Scout in Troop 26 in Castleton Corners, refused to take all the credit. He instead praised a great group effort by poll workers, Cusick, police and firefighters.
His Elections Co-Surveyor Robert Bozza helped too, he said, and one of the coordinators, Lori Lamirata, brought water to everyone on a very hot day and kept the crowd at bay to allow rescue efforts to take place.
"I kept telling [Carolina] it wasn't just me," Arvantes, of Sunnyside, said, adding he's very relieved that Ramsey is doing well now.
"He's the life force of that poll site, and we're all really glad he's OK," Arvanites said.
Recovery from the surgery has, indeed, been good, Carolina Ramsey said, and now the couple is looking forward to the wedding of their son, Robert James, in February. "He's doing great," she said of her husband. "They got him up to take a walk the first time, and he just took off."
(c)2021 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.