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Mail carrier delivers medical assistance

William Coyle, 72, stands with mail carrier mailman

William Coyle, 72, stands with mail carrier mailman Mike Rizzo, who helped save the elderly man's life on Valentine's Day. (March 16, 2011) Credit: Erin Geismar

Mike Rizzo had never seen so much blood as the day he pulled up to a house in Medford and found a distressed William Coyle.

Rizzo,  24, a part-time mail carrier with the Patchogue Post Office, was working in Medford that day on a fluke, as he normally is assigned routes in Patchogue. As he drove down Coyle’s street, Acorn Avenue, he saw the 72-year-old man covered in blood and waving him down from his porch.

“It was a crazy scene,” he said. “There was blood everywhere. It was kind of scary, honestly.”

It was around noon on Valentine’s Day, and Coyle had just returned home from dialysis, which he receives three times a week at the Stony Brook Kidney Center in East Setauket. Coyle, who lives with his son, John, was home alone while his son was at the pharmacy filling his prescriptions.

William Coyle had removed the bandages on his right forearm, where the dialysis is performed. The wound had not yet closed, and because he’s on blood thinners, blood gushed everywhere, he said.

“I couldn’t get it to stop,” he said. “I went outside, I figured one of the neighbors would hear me. They didn’t.”

When William Coyle saw the mail truck turn the corner, he waved Rizzo down. The two had never met, but Rizzo sat Coyle down on the porch, got a towel and told Coyle to put pressure on the wound while he called for help. Rizzo called an ambulance and John Coyle, then waited for help to arrive, making small talk to keep the elderly man calm.

John Coyle has no doubt that the kind words had just as much to do with the first aid in saving his father’s life.

“The biggest thing is that he calmed him down,” he said. “He gets very worked up, it can get bad.”

John Coyle, 51, said his father was so agitated that he didn’t even think to call his son, even though their cell phones are set up for emergencies, and Coyle only had to push one button to reach him.

Rizzo, who has worked for the post office since last May, said he tried not to think about all the blood. They talked about Coyle’s dog Tigger and the New York Jets after realizing William Coyle was a fan.

John Coyle arrived home first, followed by police and an ambulance. The whole ordeal took about 45 minutes, and when the ambulance pulled away, Rizzo went back to work. William Coyle was taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center, re-bandaged and sent home later that day.

For his actions, Rizzo received an award from the Patchogue Post Office for excellence in customer service. And just a week ago, he received a proclamation from Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko.

The day after the incident, Rizzo stopped by the Coyle house to see how William Coyle was recovering.

“I told Mike,” William Coyle said, “if he hadn’t been here, I wouldn’t be.”

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