RVAC honorees, from left: AJ Pezzica, Maryann Trubish, Chief Bill Wilkinson, Jason Parker, and Ray Bonner. Not pictured: Diane Birkel, and Randi Peralta. (Courtesy photo

Riverhead EMTs were honored by Suffolk County last week for two recent heroic CPR saves.

Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps was called on January 26 — the day of the blizzard — to the aide of a man who reported he “just wasn’t feeling quite right,” RVAC Chief Bill Wilkinson said. The man, in his 50s, had just returned from a long walk.

“We’re talking to him and he grabbed his chest, fell unconscious and died,” Wilkinson said. “We were getting the equipment on him so we defibrillated him immediately and brought him back.”

RVAC brought the man to Peconic Bay Medical Center. He was later transferred to Stony Brook for bypass surgery, Wilkinson said.

“He made a full recovery — no deficits,” Wilkinson said. The patient was discharged from the hospital two weeks later.

The RVAC crew who answered that call consisted of Wilkisnon, AJ Pezzica, Jason Parker, Diane Birkel and Stony Brook medic Randi Perralta.

A few days later, after the next big snowfall — a wet, heavy snow — a man in his 70s collapsed in the street while shoveling now outside his house.

“He was still in the roadway when we got there,” said paramedic Ray Bonner. The RVAC crew, with the assistance of two Riverhead police officers, got the victim on a stretcher and into the ambulance.

“He was in ventricular fibrillation,” Bonner said. That’s the most serious heart rhythm disturbance.

“We intubated him and applied the paddles,” he said, which brought him back to a normal heart rhythm. “He returned to spontaneous respirations,” Bonner said.

The RVAC crew on the second lifesaving call consisted of Bonner, Birkel, Pezzica and Maryann Trubish.

“It helped that we got there really quickly,” Wilkinson said. “In these situations, early treatments give better outcomes. I’m very happy we were able to respond so fast.”

The Suffolk County Rgional EMS Council honored the crew members for their actions last Tuesday with “Pre-hospital Save Awards.”

Everyone in both instances “did a wonderful job,” Wilkinson said.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.