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Riverhead teacher revived after cardiac arrest

Riverhead High School. (May 23, 2013)

Riverhead High School. (May 23, 2013) Credit: Ian J. Stark

A group of fast-acting emergency medical technicians saved the life of a teacher who stopped breathing after a tug-of-war contest at Riverhead High School on Friday night, authorities said.

Phillips Avenue Elementary School teacher Lonnie Hughes, 57, was anchoring a tug-of-war squad in a school spirit event when he collapsed on the high school gymnasium's floor about 8:45 p.m. and went into cardiac arrest, according to officials from the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

In the audience watching the event were Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps member Jennifer Kelly and East Marion Fire Department EMT Gregory Wallace, who also teaches at Riverhead High, authorities said. When Hughes collapsed, the pair took action, restarting the teacher's heart with a defibrillator while another Riverhead EMT, Susan Shleef, performed CPR.

A standby Riverhead ambulance corps crew, on site in case of emergency, helped with the teacher's rescue, authorities said.

"If we didn't have those people there, then it could have been a horrible outcome," said Lisa Corwin, assistant chief for the Riverhead corps. "It's a good thing we were there."

Hughes started breathing in the ambulance as EMTs rushed him to Peconic Bay Medical Center.

He was later transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was recovering Saturday, authorities said. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

"They did say he was very upbeat and happy and thankful," Corwin said.

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