DOWNTOWN — Quick-thinking EMTs used brains and brute force to stop an erratic driver from plowing into a park filled with people on Wednesday, FDNY officials said.
The bizarre traffic stop unfolded on James Street and St. James Place at 5:45 p.m. when a traffic agent noticed a driver who appeared to be having a seizure.
The agent flagged down nearby medics Thomas Staubitser and Matthew Cook, who used their ambulance to block the vehicle so it couldn't move forward and collide with other cars.
As the EMTs radioed dispatch about the situation, the driver suddenly lurched forward, sideswiping the ambulance and swerving dangerously into oncoming traffic.
Staubitser and Cook then jumped out and tried to take control of the car. As Staubitser tried to open the car doors, Cook reached in through a window in an attempt to grab the steering wheel away from the driver.
When those efforts failed, Staubitser tried to kick in the door while Cook used a tool to break the passenger-side window.
The EMTs were finally able to reach into the vehicle, turn it off, and put in park, as it neared pedestrian-filled Chatham Square.
Then they assessed the driver, who appeared to be in an altered mental state, according to the FDNY. "He was just oblivious, he didn't know what was going on," the spokesman said.
The EMTs called another ambulance to respond and the driver, whose name and age weren't available, was taken to Beth Israel Hospital.
"It feels lucky that we were in the right place at the right time," Staubitser said.
Cops said they were unaware of the incident.