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Cardiac arrest survivors meet FDNY EMTs, paramedics in reunion ceremony

Survivors had the time to thank their rescuers in the annual Second Chance Ceremony

By Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Eight cardiac arrest survivors met the first responders who raced to their aid and pulled them from the brink of death during a special ceremony filled with hugs, tears and a lot of heartfelt appreciation on Thursday.

Gathering at the Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn, the survivors, who included marathoner Yi-Joo Kwon, 78, Dylan Garcia, 13, and 72-year-old tennis player Michael Allen — who fell unconscious after joking that someone had died of a heart attack at the exact same court in Astoria, Queens — met the city emergency medical technicians, paramedics and firefighters who provided CPR and raced them to the hospital for further care.

Kwon was running in the New York City Marathon in November when he dropped from a heart attack on the Verrazzano Bridge. Luckily, an EMS team was standing nearby and gave immediate assistance.

“Words can’t express our gratitude,” Kwon’s daughter Elaine said. “He was in the right place at the right time.”

Dylan was at school, running off to gym class when he became unconscious and fell on the ground face-first. After being treated and rushed to Jamaica Hospital, he’s back at school and doing well, his mother said.

“(We) pray every day, thanking God for this second chance,” said Dylan’s mother Katiuska Medina.

The FDNY second-chance ceremony, held every year, has reunited more than 200 survivors with the first responders who helped give them a new lease on life, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.

“This event is a reminder that positive outcomes come from training, discipline and teamwork,” Kavanagh said. “The work of our members makes second chances possible.”

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