For an off-duty Long Island doctor and his colleagues, a Colorado sandwich shop turned into an emergency room Monday when a man collapsed in front of them.
Dr. David Levy, an emergency physician and emergency medicine residency program director at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, was attending a conference in Denver with several co-workers — Long Islanders among them — when they stopped for lunch Monday at a sandwich shop near the conference center.
Levy and six others — all emergency room-trained doctors and four of them his former residents — were about to dig into their sandwiches at Snarf’s when there was a commotion, he said.
“This person just came in and collapsed,” Levy, of Northport, said.
The victim was an employee from a neighboring car rental business and a regular at the restaurant, said Alex Dominguez, general manager of the Snarf’s location.
“As soon as he dropped to the floor, they all sprung into action,” Dominguez said of the doctors.
The ill man was unconscious and in cardiac arrest, Levy said. While employees called 911, he sent one colleague to search for an automated external defibrillator — the devices are required in all New York businesses, but not in Colorado.
Levy and the remaining doctors began to perform CPR. When they did find an AED, the man required three shocks and several rounds of CPR to establish a pulse again, Levy said.
Last Levy had heard, the man was taken to a hospital and remained in intensive care on Monday night.
The man’s son, Michael McGonigal, 32, said he’s grateful the doctors were there. He declined to identify his father, but said he worked in the rental car business alone and only by chance made it to the crowded restaurant before he collapsed.
“He just so happened to walk over to restaurant that was filled with seven ER doctors,” he said. “The entire background is just amazing to me.”
McGonigal, a sergeant with the Army’s military police who is stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana, , said Wednesday his father was still hospitalized, but in good condition and on his way to recovery.
Dominguez said Snarf’s staff was impressed with the doctors’ response.
“If it wasn’t for the doctors, he wouldn’t have made it,” Dominguez said. “He’s a really lucky guy.”
After the ambulance left, the group finished their food and returned to the conference.
The story spread throughout the conference, the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians’ Scientific Assembly. Levy, who won three awards at the conference, was featured on a local news channel by a crew that had been covering the conference.
Still, Levy said his priority was the patient, and he is glad he could help.
“You’re sitting down having lunch like anyone else, and then somebody collapses,” he said. “We have to do what we do.”