High Line Ambulance Station Workers Honored for Saving Tourist's Life
CHELSEA — Like many visitors to the city, Jason Kroft checked into his hotel, dropped off his bag, and then hit the streets of Midtown to start checking out the city.
Minutes later, he was on the ground in Times Square after a sudden cardiac arrest, desperately clinging to life as emergency workers raced to save him and a bystander gave him CPR.
Kroft, a 41-year-old attorney from Toronto, was in town with his wife and two daughters to visit his brother, who lives here.
Speaking to DNAinfo.com New York from Canada, he said that he likely wouldn't have survived if the bystander, John Carey, had not stepped in to keep him breathing and the rescue workers hadn't arrived within three minutes.
"Had the CPR not been done, had they shown up later, I would have been done," he said.
"I was basically in the right place at the right time."
The rescue workers came from EMS Station 7, a 3656-square-foot ambulance station under the High Line at West 23rd Street that was placed there to make up for the closure of St. Vincent's Hospital in 2010, with the primary goal of reducing response time and saving lives, officials said.
The city moved to make the station permanent late last year, attracting the ire of neighbors who complained that it filled their luxury apartments with fumes and kept them up at night with loud sirens.
The incident happened in October, but Kroft was reunited with his rescuers, who were honored at the department's "Second Chance" brunch of Wednesday, which brings together surviving cardiac arrest patients with paramedics, EMTs, and other rescuers.
Department spokesman Frank Dwyer said that the paramedics at Station 7 responded to tens of thousands of calls last year, and have helped reduced response time to a record low of six minutes and 30 seconds citywide for most serious medical emergencies.
For Kroft, who has no memory of his experience, said that any more time would have likely been the difference between life and death.
"They were prompty, they were wonderful," he said.
"They continued the CPR, reasurred my wife, but kept focusing on my health."
The paramedics, Sophia Quadri and Jaime Gonzalez, continued CPR after arriving, shocked Kroft with a defibrillator, then gave him an IV and began hypothermia treatment, which brings down body temperature to preserve brain function during a cardiac arrest, FDNY officials said.
Another FDNY EMS rescue worker, John Paul Dimen and NYU Hospital EMTs Dameon Marks and Julio Rivera arrived quickly after to help take Kroft to St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital.
According to Kroft, treatment for the incident was "pretty major" — he needed open heart surgery that same day, spent 13 days in the hospital, and only started working again in January.
On his most recent visit to the city this week, he was able to take in some of the sights that he missed because of his cardiac arrest, but more importantly, he said, he was able to thank the people who helped to save his life.
"It was really great to meet them and thank them," he said.
"I have a very special place for New York."