Life saver

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In May 2002, the New York State Legislature enacted legislation that became effective September 1, 2002, requiring that public high schools, among other facilities, provide and maintain cardiac automated external defibrillators (AEDs), as well as staff members trained to use it. The legislation came about largely as a result of Louis J. Acampora’s tragic death on March 25, 2000, when the then 14-year-old boy was struck in the chest by a lacrosse ball while playing goalie for the Northport junior varsity lacrosse team. Although my family and I became aware of the tragedy, a recent event made us realize just how important the Acamporas’ life-saving efforts have been.

On Friday, December 5, my brother Fred was officiating a junior varsity basketball game at East Hampton High School. During the second quarter of the game, my brother collapsed. Fred’s officiating partner described later in the Southampton Hospital Emergency Room that “he went down like a sack of potatoes.” Fred’s heart had stopped beating—cardiac arrest. The heroes of the evening sprung immediately to action.

Trainer Randy Cherill and Emergency Medical Technician Judy Bennett raced to begin performing CPR. Physical education teacher Richard King retrieved the AED while athletic director Joe Vasile-Cozzo and coach John Crupp prepared to use it. Fred’s zebra stripe official’s shirt was cut from his torso. The machine, attached in its proper settings by Vasile-Cozzo and Crupp, detected a faint ventricular flutter. Although by this time Fred had no pulse and had stopped breathing, the paddles went to work and soon my brother was revived, his heart and lungs miraculously responsive. Within minutes, the East Hampton Police and ambulance arrived. My brother was transported to Southampton Hospital and lives this day, thanks to the efforts of all these wonderful people.

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank each of you, including the wonderful people whose names I do not know from the East Hampton Police Department, the ambulance volunteers, the emergency staff in Southampton Hospital, the Acampora family, Randy Cherill, Judy Bennett, Joe Vasile-Cozzo, Richard King and John Crupp for truly being heroes.

Our parents who are each 89 years young depend on Fred to help them in their daily lives. Your kindness, concern and determined actions saved more than just my brother on that fateful Friday afternoon.

Thank you so very much. We are forever in your debt.

HOWARD H. HECKMAN JR.Center Moriches

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