By Danny Schrafel
A longtime Dix Hills Fire District paramedic died suddenly Monday morning responding to a call in Hampton Bays, ambulance corps officials said.
Ralph Oswald, 64, of Hampton Bays, was responding shortly before 9 a.m. Monday to a call for an unresponsive man with the Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Corps. While caring for the man, he fell ill and told the crew he was “experiencing distress.”
According to the Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Oswald went into cardiac arrest moments later.
Oswald was rushed by Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance and Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance Corps to Southampton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead after resuscitation efforts en route to and inside the hospital were unsuccessful.
Dix Hills Fire Department Chief Robert Fling said Oswald’s sudden death is a huge blow to the department.
“When they called me this morning, I was in absolute shock. I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
Fling said Oswald was a per-diem paramedic for both Dix Hills and Hampton Bays and a longtime fixture at the Dix Hills firehouse who could frequently be seen walking laps around the firehouse.
His sterling bedside manner – with colleagues and patients alike – always stood out.
“Ralph was never in a bad mood,” Fling said. “Every time he saw you, he greeted with you a smile. His demeanor with a patient that was second to none.”
In addition, Oswald was a passionate educator who loved teaching others what he knew about the EMS service, Fling said. That passion was evident in his Facebook profile’s unique URL – Medic154.
Recently, Oswald and his fellow paramedics were honored for their efforts to save a 60-year-old main in cardiac arrest during a call on Dec. 11, 2014. The crew received a Pre-Hospital Save Award from the Suffolk County Regional Emergency Medical Services Council.
Funeral arrangements for Oswald are pending. He is survived by his wife of nearly 21 years, Suzanne, and two sons.