The ceremony was full of emotion, as the six survivors hugged and shook the hands of those who gave them a second shot at life.
“It’s been very emotional and satisfying to meet the people again and know that they do this every day, save people’s lives,” survivor Sudhir Mongia said. “To me they have been specially chosen. They are the chosen people who can do such excellent work every day.”
Mongia was on his way home with his family on May 17, 2012, after celebrating his daughter’s graduation from New York University when he suddenly collapsed while walking down the stairs to the train platform.
A number of bystanders saw Mongia fall, and one of them, Jon Dohlin, immediately began CPR. He worked to keep Mongia alive until first responders arrived.
Dohlin was also at the Second Chance Brunch, where he was reunited with the man whose life he saved.
“It is an amazing emotion, I have to tell you, because when I walked away from the scene, I still didn’t know exactly what the outcome was going to be,” Dohlin said. “The EMTs were still working on him, and I walked away feeling quite unsettled about the whole thing.
“It wasn’t until a year later when the Fire Department called me that I discovered that he had made it and was in good shape and good health,” he added.
New York City has over 3,000 trained men and women who work in EMS, who in the last year responded to over 1.4 million emergencies.
Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano applauded the dedication of all EMS workers.
“I have witnessed firsthand the work of our EMS officers, our paramedics and our EMTs, and believe me, it’s nothing short of extraordinary,” Cassano said.
For him and for all of FDNY, he said, this in particular is a rewarding day.
“Seeing the patient you saved happy, healthy, enjoying the rest of their lives, really demonstrates how rewarding this career can be,” Cassano said. “And that’s why this morning’s ceremony is so important. It’s truly one of the best days on the FDNY calendar, and it’s always been one of my proudest moments to serve as the Commissioner.”
Chief of EMS Abdo Nahmod agreed with the Commissioner.
“A second chance at life is what we live for,” he said.
He also praised the hard work and commitment of EMS workers.
“The dedication that is displayed on every call we go to comes from why we do this job,” Nahmod said. “It’s the backbone of EMS. It’s the dedication to saving a life.”