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Westchester First-Responders Save Life Of Heart Attack Victim

MTA officials with the Westchester first responders that helped save a life on the New Haven Line.
MTA officials with the Westchester first responders that helped save a life on the New Haven Line. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - A team of heroes from Westchester County were celebrated on Monday for their roles in saving a passenger’s life on a Metro-North train earlier this year.

MTA Metro-North announced on Monday that three first-responders from the railroad’s Grand Central Terminal Fire Brigade, a Metro-North engineer, and conductor have been recognized for saving the life of a passenger who went into cardiac arrest on a train in July.

Minutes after the 4:45 p.m. New Haven line train left Grand Central Terminal on July 19, a customer knocked on the head cab door, alerting officials that a man on board had passed out and may have suffered a seizure.

The train’s conductor, John O’Brien, assisted the man, while the train’s engineer, Danielle Bonge stopped the train to place a call to the rail control center, letting them know that a passenger was in medical distress.

“When I got back to the train car, I saw a man lying in the aisle, and another customer, who identified himself as a doctor, administering CPR,” O’Brien said after being told the man was having a heart attack.

According to the MTA, O’Brien climbed over several seats to get to the man in distress and radioed a call to the rail control center to tell them of the circumstances and alert them that they needed to make a reverse move back into Grand Central Terminal. An emergency call was also broadcast by Bonge asking anyone with a medical background to make their way to the car where the man was suffering the heart attack.

Following that public address, Mount Kisco resident James Tipa, a Fire EMS officer and Andrew Seicol, an assistant fire chief for the Grand Central Terminal Fire Brigade jumped into action, driving one of their brigade’s electric carts from the unit’s firehouse into the terminal to meet the train at the platform.

Less than three minutes after receiving the radio distress call of the heart attack, the two Westchester residents were at the scene.

“We quickly began working with the MTA Police Department on the patient who was in cardiac arrest,” Seicol said.

After having the conductors clear the car, Seicol began ventilation with a bag valve mask, providing the man suffering the cardiac arrest with supplemental oxygen, while medical professionals on the train administered CPR. Tipa then applied AED to analyze the heart rhythm. After delivering a single jolt, and several cycles of chest compressions, a pulse was located in the man by those medical professionals.

“It was a great outcome,” Tipa said. “The man suddenly regained consciousness, and he seemed lucid and aware. The train’s engineer, the MTA Police, the good people on the train, the Fire Brigade, we all came together and averted a tragedy.”

As the man regained consciousness, an FDNY EMS team arrived at the platform to transport him to an area hospital.

“I’ve been an EMT for eleven years and a firefighter for more than twelve years,” Seicol, who also serves as a volunteer firefighter in Westchester County, said. “I’ve responded to a number of cardiac events like this one, and this is the first one where a patient completely regained consciousness while we were still on-scene. It was great teamwork and a remarkable moment.”

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