By Arielle Dollinger
Moviegoers saw a real-life scare with a happy ending this Fourth of July weekend, when the Dix Hills Fire Department Rescue Squad saved a man in cardiac arrest in the theater.
But the end of the night was not the end of the action: the next day, the squad rescued a man who went into cardiac arrest at a residence.
“You can go months without getting a cardiac arrest,” said Dix Hills Fire District paramedic Bob Cavalieri, who was involved with both rescues. “It’s just amazing that we had two of them almost identical.”
According to Chief Bill Stio, who was present for the movie theater rescue, the department does “maybe four or five” cardiac arrest rescues a year.
“It doesn’t happen every day like this,” Stio said. “To have two a day apart is unusual.”
Still, Cavalieri, who has been a medic since 1980, said that “nothing” surprises him anymore.
“It’s either really slow or really busy,” he said.
On Saturday night, Cavalieri was on his way out of the department’s headquarters down the road from the Elwood Cinemas on Jericho Turnpike when he got the call about a man in cardiac arrest at the theater. His response time, he estimated, was about one minute. Third Assistant Chief Alan Berkowitz happened to be at a traffic light opposite the theater and reported to the scene, followed by others.
“We were lucky,” Cavalieri said. “We had somebody in the theater that knew CPR, so they started doing chest compressions right away.”
The 67-year-old patient was lying in the aisle of the theater when officials arrived, fire officials said. He lost his pulse and went into cardiac arrest. Berkowitz started performing CPR and hooked the patient up to a defibrillator, and Berkowitz and Cavalieri then continued CPR.
The patient was then taken to Huntington Hospital by the Dix Hills Rescue Squad ambulance, accompanied by the captain of the Dix Hills Rescue Squad, paramedic Scott DiPino.
The next day, on Sunday afternoon around 3:35 p.m., the department got a call about a 92-year-old man choking on food and going into cardiac arrest at a residence. Cavalieri responded again, along with Tony Hunt, Advanced EMT-CC Eytan Pick and Suffolk County police. A Dix Hills Rescue Squad ambulance brought the man to Huntington Hospital.
Dix Hills wasn’t the only department making cardiac arrest saves over the weekend. On Saturday night, Suffolk County police officers saved a third individual suffering cardiac arrest in Huntington village.
Around 7:45 p.m., the department got a call about an 80-year-old man choking at Sur Steakhouse on New York Avenue.
The man went into cardiac arrest, police said, as Officer David Weymouth tried to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
The man, whom police did not identify, lost consciousness. Police shocked him with an internal defibrillator and performed chest compressions. The man regained consciousness, police said, and was taken to Huntington Hospital.
Dabes Das, a server at Sur, was in the restaurant at the time of the incident.
“Everyone was taken aback by the situation,” he said. “We immediately called 911 and a police officer was in the door within a minute… at least that’s what it felt like.”
The children were taken outside, Das said, and the adult guests also cleared out to make sure that the officers and paramedics had the space to work.