Kyle J. Reitan had just arrived home after working a shift as a volunteer emergency medical technician for the Miller Place Fire Department when his supervisor called. Could he rush to the scene of a serious motorcycle accident near his house?
Along a steep curve on Yaphank Road, Reitan found a man later identified as Bill Pattison Jr. on his back, in the middle of the road. His breathing was labored. His motorcycle, which had struck a pole, was a jumbled heap of metal and tires.
Spurred by adrenaline and training, Reitan grabbed his emergency medical gear and cleared Pattison's airway, provided manual breaths to the unconscious man and screamed to a cop at the scene -- "Get me aviation!"
Sunday, Reitan and Pattison met again -- for the first time since that August 2011 accident -- as the Firemen's Association of the State of New York honored the young first lieutenant with the EMS Provider of the Year award at an afternoon ceremony at the Miller Place Fire Department.
"I owe everything to this man," said Pattison, 52, of Mastic, who suffered a brain injury in the crash but has resumed working as a golf course superintendent. "I didn't mean to test all his training. . . . If you see me on the road, it's four wheels -- not two."
Reitan, 21, who lives in Miller Place and works as a radio production assistant in New York, had received the award last month at a ceremony upstate. Sunday's event allowed Reitan's family to attend and for him to meet the man whose life he saved.
Both said they were nervous.
"I wanted to meet him in the worst way, but the event around it -- it gets me choked up," said Pattison, who attended with his parents and sons Liam, 13, and Brendan, 7. He has no memory of the crash.
Reitan said: "He needed my help, and that's exactly what I did."
Robert N. McConville, first vice president at FASNY, told Reitan he's one of the youngest recipients of the award. Miller Place Fire Chief Carl Schroeter said "50, 60 years from now, Kyle Reitan's picture will still be hanging" in the firehouse. A squadron of public officials and their representatives presented proclamations.
Pattison's parents -- Bill, 75, a retired Nassau police officer, and Donna, 69, a retired nurse -- expressed their gratitude.
"To see a young man as capable as him do such a heroic act is amazing to me," Donna Pattison said.