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Oginski Saves a Life While on Holiday

Years of training paid off when 17-year-old Joseph Oginski heard the call of a frantic gate attendant at the Fort Myers Airport as he and his parents waited to board their plane back to New York after a family holiday in Naples, Florida. He stepped forward and informed the attendant that he was a trained firefighter and first responder.

An elderly man was unconscious and already turning blue when Joseph knelt to feel his pulse and monitor his breathing. He could not detect a pulse nor did the man appear to be breathing. Calling for a pocket facemask and an automatic external defibrillator, Joseph began performing the rescue breathing and instructed the gate attendant to assist with compression techniques.

When the defibrillator was in place, Joseph used the equipment to shock the man, who did not respond. He resumed the rescue breathing and chest compressions, followed by another shock. In all, it took three jolts from the defibrillator and continuing CPR maneuvers to restore breath and a pulse to the gentleman.

We asked Joseph if he thought of giving up since the man had no vital signs. He said, “I kept looking up at the man’s wife…she was my inspiration to keep going…keep trying. I was so ecstatic when I saw color come back into his face.”

The dramatic rescue occurred in a matter of minutes as Joseph’s parents watched him perform calmly and competently. After the crisis had passed, the airport’s EMTs arrived and transferred the patient to the hospital from which he was later released.

Joseph told the Record, “ I started out hanging around the fire department when I was 11 years old…one of my best friends was Andrew Ielpi whose father, Jon, was an assistant chief at the Vigilants.”  (Jon Ielpi died on September 11 while valiantly helping people escape from the World Trade Center collapse.)

As soon as he was of age, at 13, he joined the Junior Alerts and his training began. By the time he was 15, he was the Junior Alerts captain. At 17, he joined the Vigilants and commenced training to be a first responder on the ambulance service. He has assisted in six responses to cardiac arrests and those experiences and his extensive training proved to be invaluable.

Joseph graduated from South High School this year and has already begun taking classes at John Jay College. He is unsure of his career path, but he is sure that he will continue his volunteer commitment to fire fighting and ambulance calls. “I like the satisfaction of helping people,” he said.