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Off-duty cop used AED to save teen hit by baseball

He performed rescue breaths then shocked the teen after he was hit in the chest with a baseball and stopped breathing during a Little League game

By Will James

ROCKY POINT, N.Y. — A quick-thinking father grabbed a defibrillator and revived a teen who was hit by a baseball and stopped breathing in Rocky Point on Saturday evening, a Little League official said.

John Cerato was at the concession stand at the North Shore Little League complex buying ice cream for his daughter’s softball team when he heard people shouting to call 911, North Shore Little League president Gary Catalanotto said Sunday.

A 15-year-old Shoreham boy who was practicing pitching in the batting cages had been hit in the chest by a line drive and collapsed, Catalanotto said. It was about 6 p.m., and the fields were bustling with seven Little League games.

Cerato, of Miller Place, said Sunday that he grabbed a defibrillator from the field house and joined a crowd gathering around the boy, who did not appear to be breathing. A doctor who was at the complex was already assessing the teen.

Cerato said the boy’s eyes were open and his heart was quivering, its electrical signals scrambled. Cerato performed a few rescue breaths before the automated external defibrillator, or AED, alerted him to shock the teen. He cleared the crowd and sent a pulse into the boy’s chest.

Seconds later, the teen woke up and tried to talk.

Cerato, 46, a Suffolk County police sergeant, is trained in AED use. “I’ve used these things a number of times, and this is the first time it revived a person,” he said.

Catalanotto declined to identify the boy before speaking to his parents.

The teen was conscious and alert when emergency responders rushed him to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, Suffolk County police said. He was embarrassed and did not want to go to the hospital at first, Catalanotto said.

He was later transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital and was in good condition Sunday, Catalanotto said. “Today he’s looking to eat some ice cream,” he said.

The Rocky Point Fire Department donated the AED to the Little League on Sept. 11, 2011, Catalanotto said. Saturday was the first time it had been used.

“It’s one of those miracle things,” Catalanotto said. “It’s just people coming together.”

Cerato said AEDs are “idiotproof” and easy to learn how to use.

The Little League games froze for several minutes, but resumed once the boy left in an ambulance, and it was clear he was OK, Catalanotto said. A Rocky Point Fire Department emergency responder stood by with another AED until the games ended, he said.


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