EMT remains friends with mom and child she saved 20 years ago

EMT Vivian Lomacang saved a mother and her premature baby in 1998 and started a bond with two women that would last 20 years and counting

By Molly Crane-Newman
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — EMT Vivian Lomacang was in the final minutes of her shift when her two-way radio crackled to life with what seemed like an unremarkable job.

It was a mild March evening, and the emergency dispatcher reported “a heavy bleeder” inside an apartment at Monroe St. and Marcus Garvey Blvd. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Lomacang and her partner James (Jimmy) Coyle arrived to find a woman lying in her bathtub amid a pool of blood.

“I thought she was just hemorrhaging,” Lomacang recalled. “My eye catches (something) in the tub. It was an amniotic sac with the baby and the umbilical cord still attached.”

She could never have known it at the time, but the 1998 call would mark the start of a bond with two women that would last 20 years and counting.

Lomacang, now 61 and battling a host of 9/11-linked illnesses, recounted that memorable evening just a few weeks after its 20th anniversary.

The emergency medical technicians knew they had no time to spare as they rushed to the aid of the bleeding woman and the baby still trapped in its amniotic sac.

“We broke the bag. We got it out,” Lomacang said of the baby.

“She was limp. She was blue. She was the size of my hand.”

The tiny infant was in dire condition.

She weighed just 1 pound, 6 ounces. She wasn’t breathing. And she was so fragile that basic lifesaving efforts could prove fatal.

“I just started giving her breaths, but from a distance because she was so little it would blow her lungs out,” Lomacang said.

Lomacang’s gentle CPR worked — the baby was soon breathing on her own.

The medics rushed her to nearby Woodhull hospital, where was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The baby, named Amari, had a regular visitor who was neither friend nor family.

“I always checked on her,” Lomacang said. “She just hung on in there.”

In the process, Lomacang befriended her mother, 20-year-old Devin Jamison.

Little Amari remained at the hospital for three months as doctors treated her for fluid on the brain and vision problems.

Lomacang remained a constant presence.

The EMT stayed in touch even as Amari grew from a baby into a teenager and Jamison from a meek young girl to a proud, capable mother.

They celebrated birthdays together. They updated each other on personal milestones.

Just last week, they all got together to take stock of their extraordinary journey.

Amari, who attends the Roy Campanella School in Coney Island, said Lomacang holds a special place in her heart.

“I love Vivian,” Amari said. “She’s my best friend.”

Lomacang said she could never forget the rescue, just four years into the start of her career.

“I’ve been on the job 24 years and I think that this was my most memorable,” she said.

Even 20 years later, Jamison still can’t wrap her head around that she went into labor without even knowing that she was pregnant.

“I didn’t have a period the whole six months,” said Jamison, now 40. “I was regular. I gained no weight, no nothing.”

Sadly, a key member of the story is no longer around to share in the memories.

Lomacang’s old partner Coyle became a firefighter in late 2000.

The 26-year-old was on vacation on Sept. 11, 2001, but joined his company, Ladder 3 in Manhattan, to respond to the World Trade Center attacks.

He was among the roughly 340 FDNY members killed when the twin towers collapsed.

Lomacang, who has a daughter and granddaughter, contracted several ailments — including asthma, stomach inflammation and respiratory problems — after spending four straight days at The Pile in the days after the attacks.

She said she toiled at the noxious site for three days a week until June 25, 2002.

Lomacang underwent dialysis and later a kidney transplant. Still, she resisted retirement.

“I always came back,” Lomacang said.

Lomacang — who has been approved for a three-quarters disability pension awarded to city workers who contracted illnesses linked to 9/11 — is planning to retire in two months.

Before devoting more than two decades of her life to aiding New Yorkers in their darkest hours, Lomacang spent eight years as a volunteer with the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

“I’m gonna relax,” the Crown Heights woman said of her retirement plans.

Jamison, meanwhile, is busy watching over her daughter and works in child care at a group home in Brownsville.

She said she and her daughter will forever be grateful to Lomacang and her fallen partner.

“Viv and Jimmy are Amari’s angels,” Jamison said. “Because if they didn’t act quickly and accordingly, Amari wouldn’t be here. We are sad that Jimmy left us, but we know he’s watching over her every day.”

Copyright 2018 New York Daily News


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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