Construction Worker Thanks The FDNY Members Who Saved His Life

NY 1 - December 31, 2011

by Zack Fink

It was a tearful Friday reunion in Williamsburg, Brooklyn between a construction worker and the firefighters and emergency service workers who saved his life. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Joined by his 12-year-old daughter Brianna, 51-year old John Stalzer paid a visit to Engine Company 221 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Friday. There, he met with the firefighters and paramedics who saved his life earlier this month.

"They had to put one stent in. As of now, I have to go for more testing. I am very lucky. I was told I had a 3 to 5 percent chance," said Stalzer. "I should of been in... I should be deceased. But if it hadn't been for the quick response of the fire department, I wouldn't have been here."

On December 13, Stalzer, an iron worker who was working at a construction site on Metropolitan Avenue, when he felt ill. He collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.

Firefighters and paramedics arrived on the scene in minutes, performed CPR and restarted Stalzer's heart with a defibrillator.

"He was in a heart rhythm that could not sustain life, and through defibrillation we were able to start his heart adequately and he was able to gain responsiveness," said FDNY paramedic Brian Frayne. "And through our help and intervention, we were able to get him down to the hospital."

Ironically, the construction site where Stalzer was working is going to be the FDNY's new emergency medical service station.

"One of the things we try to do is decentralize. So how ironic that a system that we have that is trying to make things better, and it turns out he was a customer of the system?" said FDNY Chief James Leonard, the Brooklyn borough commander.

Experts say another few minutes without help, and Stalzer would have suffered brain damage and ultimately death. The FDNY credits an immediate 911 phone call from co-workers which likely saved his life.

"Words can't express it. My heart and my daughter, my family, we are so grateful for having guys like this doing their job, day in and day out," said Stalzer.

"Ah, it's a great feeling to see him and his daughter here. You don't get to see that very often. Maybe once or twice in your career do you see something like that happen," said Firefighter Brian Kevan. "He wasn't with us when we got to him, so to see him now, with his daughter, it's a great feeling."