Man saved by EMTs: ‘Miracles do happen. I’m living proof’

07/15/2014 10:00 AM |
Heart attack survivor Joseph O'Byrne gives a special pin to Southold volunteer Renee Phelps, who performed CPR on Mr. O'Byrne and helped save his life in May. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Heart attack survivor Joseph O’Byrne gives a special pin to Southold volunteer Renee Phelps, who performed CPR on Mr. O’Byrne and helped save his life in May. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Joseph O’Byrne doesn’t remember what happened on May 21. The 58-year-old man doesn’t remember the heart attack, or being pulled from the passenger seat, or even when the team of medical volunteers performed CPR on him.

His body, he told the room of Southold Fire Department volunteers, felt like “smoke and shadow.” He remembers someone speaking close by, though he couldn’t make out the words.

“That might be a good thing,” joked Fire Chief Peggy Killian, who was an EMT at the scene when Mr. O’Byrne suffered the heart attack.

Mr. O’Byrne, now healthy, visited the Southold Fire Department’s meeting Monday night to thank the roughly dozen volunteers who saved his life.

Mr. O’Byrne said he’s lost 30 pounds since he suffered the heart attack. As Mr. O’Byrne spoke he tapped his cane against the ground, glancing away every so often to control his emotions.

“Miracles do happen,” he told the EMTs. “I’m living proof.”

Mr. O’Byrne later handed out CPR pins to each of the firefighters who took care of him and spoke individually with each of them.

Rescue squad captain Chris Manfredi said it’s rare for firefighters to hear from those who survive CPR rescues.

“You enjoy it,” he said. “It’s not something anybody here ever expected.”

Mr. O’Byrne said he feels like his prayers were answered, describing how the EMTs, the doctors at Stony Brook University Medical Center and later his roommate at the hospital all supported him in their own ways.

“God does answer prayers, but he’s not going to come in a thunderbolt and he’s not going to come in some ghostly form,” Mr. O’Byrne said. “He comes through us. His work has to be through our hands.

And that’s what you folks did,” he said. “And I appreciate the heck out of it.”

A column written by Joseph O’Byrne will be included in this week’s edition of The Suffolk Times.

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Joseph O'Byrne (kneeling, center) poses with Southold Fire Department's EMTs nearly two months after his dramatic resuscitation. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Joseph O’Byrne (kneeling, center) poses with Southold Fire Department’s EMTs nearly two months after his dramatic resuscitation. (Credit: Paul Squire)

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