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Striegel: Firefighters didn't let the deep snow stop them
Even as political sniping over poor snow removal blankets parts of eastern Long Island, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the weekend’s big storm also produced heroic efforts of neighbors helping neighbors.
Among the most dramatic was the story of seven Stony Brook volunteer firefighters who hustled up and down hills in thigh-deep snow to rescue a heart attack victim.
It was 9:08 a.m. Saturday, with Friday’s overnight blizzard barely finished, when a call came from a home where Dorothy Shannon, 67, was suffering chest pains.
Chief Andy Seelin says there was no way the department’s trucks, which hurried to Route 25A, could make it up steep Beacon Hill Drive and then downhill to the Shannon home on Skyview Lane, so he sent six men out on foot.
The crew, dressed in full firefighting gear, carried heavy medical equipment, including a defibrillator and stiff basket stretcher, through the snow. The six included Assistant Chief Scott Roberts and firefighters Paul McNeil, Joe Saggio, Brian Roberts, Frank Chin and Artur Tadevosyan.
After walking for about a third of a mile to the home, the men arrived sweating and panting, Dorothy Shannon says. After checking her condition, they wrapped Shannon in a waterproof blanket and placed her in the stretcher.
A neighbor from across the street, Anthony Corazzini, used his snowblower to clear a path on Skyview and part of Beacon Hill so the firefighters could more easily drag the basket stretcher like a sled. Seelin, who joined the other six, says his men held the basket from the front and back to make sure it didn’t get away.
Shannon says being dragged on the snow was “very scary,” especially as her chest pains continued.
“But they kept asking me, ‘Are you all right? Are you OK?’”
With snow too deep for a regular ambulance, Shannon was helped into a more mobile vehicle. Doctors at Stony Brook Hospital eventually confirmed that Dorothy Shannon did suffer a heart attack, and treated her for three days before releasing her on Tuesday.
“These guys are real heroes,” says Michael Shannon, Dorothy’s husband. He credited them with saving his wife’s life.
Dorothy Shannon agreed.
“I want to thank them,” she says. “If it wasn’t for them, I could have died there.”
Seelin says the event turned out to be only the first of three that day where his men, including many of the same ones, had to climb up and down hills in deep snow on foot to get to private homes. Just after noon, firefighters trudged up a long driveway to help someone else with chest pains on Route 25A. Then a short time later, they did it again up Dairy Farm Road for a stroke victim.
While the politicians stumbled in the heat of battle and now trade blame for not clearing streets, these first-responders refused to let obstacles get in the way when they were needed most.
Pictured at top: Stony Brook firefighters tow resident Dorothy Shannon through the snow on Saturday after an overnight blizzard left roads too buried for emergency vehicles. The 67-year-old woman suffered a heart attack. From left are Stony Brook volunteers Joe Saggio, Artur Tadevosyan, Lt. Paul McNeil, Frank Chin and Brian Roberts. Not shown are Assistant Chief Scott Roberts and Chief Andy Seelin. (Feb. 9, 2013) Photo by Stony Brook Fire Department