Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel often do not know what happens to the people they administer aid to and bring to the hospital, but a few lucky first responders got the chance to meet the Glendale and Middle Village residents they saved.
In celebration of National EMS Week — a week dedicated to the hard work and tireless efforts made by EMS workers — Northwell Health reunited 66-year-old Emil Kosor of Middle Village, and 64-year-old Katherine Burger of Glendale with the first responders whose quick thinking and timely execution of life-saving techniques brought them back from the brink of death, at the second annual Northwell “Second Chances” Luncheon in New Hyde Park on Thursday, May 25.
On a hot day in August of 2016, Kosor, who worked as a NYCT mechanic for 30 years, was helping his neighbor repair a lawnmower. When he returned to his home and went to sit on the couch, he suddenly passed out and collapsed to the ground.
“I’m walking home, I say, ‘Should I sit on the porch? No it’s too hot,’” Kosor recalled. “So I walk in and I’m sitting on the couch and I see my wife at the stove. My son was on the porch trying to barbecue. I went to lie down but I was just too weak, and my head just went down and that was it; I was out.”
His wife, Julie, and their son began performing CPR on him while their daughter quickly called 911.
That is when EMT Christopher Delaney and EMT Kelly Gorman arrived on the scene. They went into the house and conducted basic CPR operations. The duo then transported Kosor to Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Forest Hills to be stabilized. He was then moved to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset where he received an automated implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD).
Two days after Kosor was released from the hospital, his daughter went into labor.
“I am very, very grateful that he got around to see our eighth grandchild,” Julie Kosor said, fighting back tears. “It wasn’t his time.”
“A lot of the time they are at the hospital and they are still working on them and we really don’t know the end story,” Delaney said. “It’s really nice to see the end story.”
On April 2, Burger took her daughter and her grandson to the Cinemart Cinemas in Forest Hills to see “Beauty and the Beast.” During the film, Burger fell asleep, but when her daughter and grandson tried to wake her up, she would not respond.
That is when panic set in.
“There was a neurologist in the theater,” said Jenny Burger, the elder Burger’s daughter. “Someone called 911. I think she did CPR, and I think she was breathing. But when the Fire Department and EMTs showed up, I guess she wasn’t because they shocked her in the movie theater.”
One of those EMTs was Necole Jackson.
“I’ve been doing this for 18 years and this is the first time I’ve got recognition like this,” Jackson said. “I got to meet somebody who I saved their life. Because we save people’s lives but we hand them over, they go home, and you don’t know about them anymore. You go on to the next person. So it’s amazing to see what I helped do.”
Burger was then transported to LIJ Forest Hills. Once she was stabilized, she was moved to North Shore University Hospital, where she received a AICD.
“This is all very surreal for me because I don’t remember it happening,” Burger said. “I want to give a big, big thank you. I’m still processing the fact that I was almost not here. It’s really something that takes a long time to think about.”
Since the incident, Burger has returned working part-time as a music teacher at St. Margaret’s School in Middle Village.
“What people have to understand is that they work 24/7, 365 [days], nights, weekends and holidays, regardless of the weather,” Dr. Michael Gutterberg, medical director for the Center for Emergency Medical Services at Northwell said of the first responders. “They do [their job] without a lot of fanfare, which is why we try to acknowledge their efforts when we can. They do it for not a lot of money. But they do it for a higher purpose or a high calling.”
During the luncheon, the first responders were awarded with plaques, commemorating the work they did in saving these people’s lives.