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17 people reunited with their FDNY EMS lifesavers

Seventeen people who came within inches of losing their lives were reunited Tuesday with the FDNY paramedics and EMTs who saved them.

Trevor Boyer and Michael Gartland
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Their guardian angels came to them first as strangers. Now, they’ve had a chance to get better acquainted.

Seventeen people who came within inches of losing their lives were reunited Tuesday with the FDNY paramedics and EMTs who saved them.

The Rev. Jeffrey Thompson, a Baptist preacher from Queens, compared what happened to him to a rebirth.

“It extended my life, it gave me a new lease on life, an opportunity to have a second chance at life,” Thompson said. “I’m blessed to be here.”

Thompson was preaching to his congregation at Amity Baptist Church last October when he went into cardiac arrest and keeled over on the altar. Fortunately for him, it didn’t take long for paramedics Giovanni Reggler and Shaun King to arrive.

On Tuesday, at the Liberty Warehouse in Red Hook, they met under more comfortable circumstances.

“It means a tremendous amount to be able to say thank you,” said Thompson just before pulling Reggler and King into a great big bear hug. “I’m lucky to be here.”

So was Anthony Garofalo, 47, of Staten Island, a father of two teenage daughters. He collapsed in October as well, after going for a jog, and before long emergency medical technicians from Station 23 and firefighters from Engine Company 157 responded.

“They hit me with that defibrillator like 13 times, no one gave up. They just kept pulling for me. I’m just truly blessed and thankful,” he said. “l have a wonderful life.”

Bill Staudt, 63, had his brothers and sisters in arms to thank Tuesday for his new lease on life. A 37-year veteran of the FDNY himself, Staudt, 63, was at work at the fire department’s Research and Development office at Fort Totten when felt a burning in his chest and collapsed in front of his co-workers.

Firefighter Patrick Shields gave him CPR and called EMTs, who ran in from an adjoining building.

“They’re the true heroes,” Staudt said.

FDNY Chief of Department John Sudnik credited the department’s rigorous training regimen for all the close calls ending well.

“We practice, we work as a team so we are always ready for those life-threatening emergencies,” he said. “Thankfully, this morning, as a result of all that preparedness, we are able to put smiling faces to those calls, and our members are able to meet the people whose life they saved.”


©2019 New York Daily News

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