By Danny Schrafel
For Melville’s Christopher Nolan, serving the community runs in the family.
His brother has been a Marine for 20 years. One of his sisters is a nurse. His younger brother is a teacher, as are his wife and another sister.
“Everyone the family are service-type people,” he explained.
But for Nolan, 35, responding to dangerous situations seems to be his path for giving back. He’s been a volunteer with the Melville Fire Department for 15 years; there, he serves as the department’s third assistant chief. He’s been a New York state trooper for 11 years, a K9 officer since 2010 who leads a narcotics and cadaver dog named Reddy, and has been involved in “tons of huge arrests” related to drugs.
“It’s exciting, but you’re also helping people when they really need it,” he said. “They’re calling you because they need you – I really do like to help people.”
One of those opportunities came on Jan. 3, when his quick response helped save the life of a young boy who suffered a seizure and stopped breathing on the Southern State Parkway. Police said the boy had developed a serious case of flu and was running a blistering 107-degree fever.
At approximately 6:35 p.m. Jan. 3, state police in Farmingdale received a frantic emergency call from a woman on the highway. All they could gather from the call was that she was in the area of Exit 25 on the Southern State.
Based on the screaming, unintelligible phone call, Nolan geared up to respond to “some kind of violent assault” or a domestic incident.
“They didn’t know what it was… I didn’t know it was an aided case,” he said.
When Nolan discovered a Buick parked on the right shoulder on the Southern State near exit 25, the car door “flung open,” he recalled, and he was met in the pouring rain by a 31-year-old woman, clutching her 6-year-old son.
Nolan quickly determined the child was suffering a blocked airway. He “threw him in the back seat of the Buick,” cut his jacket away, positioned the boy on his back and tilted his head up. As soon as his airway opened again and the boy began breathing, he began “projectile vomiting,” adding another obstacle to him breathing.
After his airway was kept clear for several minutes, the boy “slowly regained consciousness,” Nolan said. Soon after, the North Bellmore EMS arrived and rushed the boy to Nassau University Medical Center.
From the initial call to police, the whole incident transpired in about 12 minutes, Nolan said.
“I happened to be in the right place at the right time. The fire departments – they’re good. They respond quick,” he said.
The boy spent about 10 days in hospital before being released, Nolan said.
Nolan, who said he has done “CPR on tons of people” as a fire department volunteer, said his police and fire service fit together well.
“You’ve always got to be ready to jump in and show the guys what to do,” he said. “And I like doing that. I like teaching the younger guys.”