Kevin Koziarz was feeling pretty good while running in the 21st annual Joe Koziarz 5K in Westhampton Beach Village on Saturday morning, an event put on each year to honor his father, who died after suffering a heart attack in 1995 at the age of 52.
But just a minute after crossing the finish line, Mr. Koziarz, 41, said he didn’t feel right. He started experiencing chest pains that became severe enough to lead him to the Peconic Bay Medical Center’s medical tent, which was set up on the nearby Village Green. Officials called for the Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance crew that was on hand for the race and, in a matter of minutes, paramedics had Mr. Koziarz in an ambulance and were speeding their way to Stony Brook University Medical Center.
Upon arriving there, Mr. Koziarz was rushed into the emergency room where he underwent an emergency procedure to insert a stent and remove a blockage in his heart.
Mr. Koziarz said the quick response of the EMS unit—including its ability to get him from Westhampton Beach to Stony Brook in just 32 minutes on a busy summer Saturday—was literally a lifesaver. He also credited the paramedics for keeping him calm during the entire ordeal, from the ambulance ride to the emergency room.
He said he was conscious throughout the ordeal, explaining that while he knew his condition was serious, he was able to keep a level head thanks to the paramedics.
“One of the EMS guys was cracking jokes the entire time,” Mr. Koziarz said on Tuesday afternoon. “I knew it was serious, but they kept it quite relaxed and helped me stay calm.”
A Westhampton Beach High School graduate who now lives in Clayton, North Carolina, Mr. Koziarz said the irony of the situation—that he was suffering from a potentially life-threatening heart emergency minutes after running a race to honor his father, who died of a heart attack—did not strike him until later.
“The irony hit me more after the fact,” he said. “When the pain was at its highest, I was just focused on that.”