Meet the EMS Team and Those We've Saved
Surviving and Thriving: EMS event teaches benefit of quick response
Their stories are different: a dek hockey player working on a hat trick; a delivery driver loading items as he kicked off a day’s work; a husband stacking mulch into the bed of his truck.
The three men, though, possess a shared experience in 2019: they each suffered sudden cardiac arrest.
Through the quick work of Township police and EMS teams, as well as those around them, the trio survived.
Those responders, as well as the survivors themselves, were honored in November during the Save-A-Life Saturday event, held annually in the Township’s Municipal Center.
According to Ted Fessides, Chief and Executive Director of Cranberry Township EMS, the organization began holding the event in 2012 to train residents on compression-only CPR. Through that training, they are taught to identify someone experiencing cardiac arrest and how to help until authorities arrive. That act can improve a person’s survival rate from 11 to 50 percent.
For the three survivors, what began as normal activities quickly turned into panic.
Richard Ross can attest. He had scored a few goals for his dek hockey team before skating to the bench. There, he collapsed, and emergency crews were called.
Before they could arrive, Bryan Conforto stepped in. Having given up goals to Ross earlier that night as the opposing team’s goalie, he put jersey color aside and began CPR.
Ross has made a full recovery and has even returned to the rink. His team’s name carries a subtle nod to his experience: Creeping Death.
The pair were given a special gift from the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex for their sportsmanship and life-altering bond.
For Richard Holzer, catching up on yard work on a hot July day had him feeling dizzy.
That dizziness worsened, and he collapsed to the ground while loading mulch at a Township store. Nearby, an off-duty Josh Rader, who serves as a firefighter for the Harmony Volunteer Fire Department, rushed to his aid. Holzer’s wife, Debra, helped perform CPR until EMS arrived.
The couple have been married for 45 years and have “a great life together,” Holzer noted as he quietly thanked those who helped him.
Meanwhile, it was a case of “right place, right time” for Gary Lucente.
He, too, felt dizzy as he loaded his work truck for a day of deliveries. He attempted to lower himself to the ground gently but collapsed. His co-workers called for help, but a nurse who happened to be nearby came to his aid and started CPR.
The 70-year-old Lucente was emotional in thanking those who helped him. It was an emotional day for his family as well, including daughter, Elissa Mimran, and grandson, Vincent. Mimran said she’s thankful he’s around to spend time with his grandchildren.
Vincent agreed. “Thank you everyone for saving my pappy,” he said.
Township police officers receiving commendation include Officers Randall Bauer, Jeremy Norton, Michael Weleski, Joshua Shimko, William Wilson and Cpl. William Och.
Members of the Township EMS receiving accolades were EMTs Alyse Saylor, Curt Huffman, Shawn MacIntyre; Paramedics Scott Garing Jr., Jeremy Nickl, Matthew Nickl, Kaitlyn Finneral, Ryan Mann, Nicole Dambaugh and Brian Dambaugh.