By Jano Tantongco
An off-duty Commack firefighter revived a man suffering from an apparent heroin overdose while in a Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Commack on Saturday, fire officials said.
Firefighter Robert DiBono, of Commack Fire Department’s Ladder Company One, was out shopping in the area when he got an emergency notification at around 3:28 p.m. indicating a nearby victim.
When DiBono arrived at the 6330 Jericho Turnpike restaurant in his own vehicle, he went inside and found a 20-year-old man lying next to a used needle in the bathroom. A bystander was attempting CPR, and DiBono determined the victim was showing signs of an opiate overdose. DiBono administered one dose of Narcan, an anti-overdose drug, to which the victim immediately responded, according to fire officials.
The man was conscious and alert as he was being wheeled to an ambulance, and was brought to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown.
Pat Fazio, a Commack Fire Commissioner, said DiBono, a 29-year veteran of the department, “did what any one of us would do.”
This was the first time that the department’s Narcan training had been utilized since members first had their tutorial at the end of February, Fazio said.
“Hopefully the young man will seek the help he needs in combating this addiction he has,” Fazio said. “Otherwise next time maybe he won’t be so lucky.”
Fazio added that in his 50 years of living in Commack, he’s seen the scourge of the heroin epidemic firsthand.
“Now, we see them [overdoses] all the time. It’s definitely spiked. There’s no handle on it,” he said. “They don’t realize they’re playing with fire.”
Fazio stressed that more education needs to be provided for children to deal with the epidemic.
He said, “Unfortunately, our school systems don’t want to think it's their issue, but it is. I don’t know the complete, finite answer, but education in itself would help.”