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From the archives: Emergency crews respond quickly

This story was originally published in Newsday on Dec. 8, 1993.

When volunteer firefighter Ben Volticello of the Garden City Park squad pulled up in an ambulance at the railroad station at Merillon Avenue shortly after 6:30 p.m., he saw a pregnant woman lying on the grass.

"She was surprisingly calm the whole time," said Volticello, who rushed the woman, later identified as Lisa Combatti, to Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, where she was being treated late last night. "She was shot in the buttocks, with no exit wound. But they checked out the baby and she appeared to be fine."

As it turned out, Combatti, 33, was 7 1/2 months pregnant and was not among the most severely wounded. Gunshot victims were scattered across the station's platform and nearby grass, Volticello said.

Severity of injury was the only order to the chaos that reigned in the minutes after the 5:33 p.m. train from Penn Station pulled into the station a few moments after gunfire rang out in a car. Sixteen minutes after police received the first call, Combatti was the first taken away because of concern about her fetus.

Late last night, the bodies of the four confirmed dead remained covered at the station, which acted as a makeshift morgue while police continued their investigation.

The call to the Nassau County Police Department came in at 6:21 p.m. that about 25 people had been shot at the Merillon Avenue station, said Gary Ruff, commanding officer of Nassau's emergency ambulance bureau. By 7:07 p.m., police and volunteer ambulances had transported all of the 15 injured discovered at the scene to area hospitals.

"The team work was tremendous," Ruff said. "Everybody did what they were supposed to do, and I'm tremendously proud."
Volunteer ambulance corps were among the first to respond after a police ambulance arrived and immediately established a command central. From there, about 11 police officers performed triage and coordinated which patients would go where and who needed immediate care. At least five police helicopters took the most seriously injured to area hospitals.

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