Several Revere Police Officers and Firefighters are being singled out this week for a miraculous lifesaving effort on Broadway last Wednesday afternoon, May 15th, on a young man who was in the clutches of death from a heroin overdose.
The scene unfolded about 1 p.m. in the middle of the street in full view of dozens of witnesses and several people taking video of the unbelievable resuscitation of the man who had turned completely blue and appeared to be dead to all but the first responders.
The sad part about it, officials said, is that they often treat such death-saving grabs from heroin overdoses multiple times a week – just not usually in such a public place with so many witnesses.
“This was actually normal for us,” said Fire Chief Gene Doherty, who noted that firefighters administered two shots of NARCAN to the 24-year-old man as he lay on the street. “This was a big save and was particularly big because the police officers and firefighters worked together on it so seamlessly. A lot of people were impressed with what they saw, but we do this all the time, unfortunately.”
Gilman Brewer of Calumet Street was the first witness on the scene and actually called 9-1-1.
He said he was coming out of the bank when the car in front of him tried to make a U-turn on Broadway just after Mountain Avenue. The car stopped, he said, and what unfolded was chaos.
“A guy got out and was screaming to me about where the nearest hospital was and that his friend was dying,” said Brewer. “The girl in the car was yelling that her brother was dead and they needed help at a hospital. The kid was all purple and his lips were blue. I told them they would never make it to the hospital and I called 9-1-1. As I was on the phone, I saw a cop in front of the Moose Lodge and yelled for him to come over. He got on his walkie-talkie. The next thing I knew cops had pulled up all over and they pulled the kid out of the car. Then another cop pulls up and comes out with a mouthpiece and they start giving him CPR. I told them to forget about it, the kid was dead, but they wouldn’t stop.”
Doherty said the three police officers involved were Jim Rose, Greg Tammaro and Sgt. Kevin Colannino, and at first they thought that Brewer was signaling them to help with a motor vehicle accident.
Once they encountered the young man, they quickly determined he was in arrest from the drug overdose and needed CPR.
Doherty confirmed that Ladder 2 arrived on scene with Acting Lt. DiCarlo and Firefighters Petrilli and Carifio – who initiated oxygen therapy and administered nasal NARCAN to bring the young man back from the edge of death.
He did survive and came to within about 15 minutes of the 9-1-1 call from Brewer, and was transported to the hospital by ambulance.
“This was a perfect example of our police and firefighters doing their job in an expeditious and professional manner and clearly made a difference in this young man’s life,” he said. “Without the officers quickly determining the need for CPR and the firefighters administering the oxygen and NARCAN, this would have more than likely been a tragic circumstance – especially in the timeframe involved with all this occurring in under four minutes, which is the critical time to lessen brain damage. This is actually a normal ‘doing the job’ as our members do every day, but it is nice to actually see this on video and hear bystanders cheering them on as they saw the victim was revived.”
Mayor Dan Rizzo gave the firefighters and police officers a big kudos, but also tempered that with a warning about the opioid problems in the area.
“Great job to all involved,” he said in an e-mail. “I have taken the liberty of [informing] the Winnisimmet Regional Opioid Collaborative (WROC) to demonstrate that while the work to save the life of this young man was clearly remarkable, the need for addressing this terrible problem of opioid abuse and dependency is critical.”
Doherty said the witness video would be sent to the state Department of Public Health to reinforce the NARCAN program that started in Revere and is now spreading across the state.
Brewer added that he was proud of Revere’s Police and Fire Departments.
“They were so fast and worked so hard and knew just what to do and that’s what brought him back,” said Brewer. “The took that kid back from death. I was totally shocked. It’s amazing what they did because he was dead. They could have just said, ‘He’s dead,’ and moved on, but they didn’t. They kept it up and were confident they could bring him back. I was so proud of the Revere Police Department.”