After man dies shoveling roof, Conn. emergency responders finish job

Cardiac arrest resuscitation was unsuccessful; EMS, police, and fire personnel returned to patient's home to shovel off the roof


By Jesse Leavenworth
The Hartford Courant

MANCHESTER, Conn. — First responders who tried to save a man's life Tuesday when he collapsed while shoveling his roof returned to the house after the man died to finish the job he started.

"In all honesty, it's not surprising, you know, the compassion of our community and our first responders, but this to me was just amazing," police Officer Bernie Hallums said Wednesday.

EMS, police, and fire clearing snow off a roof after the homeowner collapsed and later died (Officer Bernie Hallums/Manchester Police Department)
EMS, police, and fire clearing snow off a roof after the homeowner collapsed and later died (Officer Bernie Hallums/Manchester Police Department)

The emergency call from 12 Scott Drive came in at 9:45 a.m. Hallums said he and other police officers climbed a ladder to the roof and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but the man, who was having a heart attack, remained unconscious and later died.

Later that morning, Hallums, along with Officers Adam Desso and Tomacz Kaczerski, firefighters from the town and Eighth Utilities District and Ambulance Service of Manchester medics, returned to the home to finish shoveling the roof.

"I'm grateful to serve in such a caring community," Hallums posted on his Facebook page.

Town fire Chief David Billings identified the man who died as Miroslaw Dabrowski, 57, the father of three adult children. Born in Poland, Dabrowski came to the U.S. in 1982 and worked as a carpenter, said his wife, Teresa Dabrowski.

Her husband was a hard worker who would always reach out to help others, asking for nothing in return, Teresa Dabrowski said. He would have been deeply thankful to the first responders, she said.

"He would be very appreciative that someone was looking out for his family," she said. "We are all grateful to them."

The effort to save Dabrowski involved 10 first responders, a ladder truck and an automatic CPR device that was strapped to Dabrowski while firefighters secured him to a backboard, placed him in a basket and lowered him from the roof, Billings said. Dabrowski never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at Manchester Memorial Hospital.

About an hour later, Battalion Fire Chief Robert DePietro requested permission to go back to the house, Billings said. DePietro contacted the other first responders, who all agreed to return and complete the roof clearing.

Often after such a concerted lifesaving effort ends in death, emergency personnel feel frustrated and helpless, Billings said. Finishing Dabrowski's work gave them some satisfaction, he said.

"It's a way of completing the picture," Billings said.

©2015 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

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