Honored for Beach Rescue

Karen Haab received the EMS Provider of the Year Award from the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York on Saturday for helping save the life of Stuart Herman, left. Joining them were Lt. James Gledhill, who nominated Ms. Haab for the award, and Springs Fire Chief Ben Miller. Durell Godfrey

    Like most emergency services volunteers, Karen Haab, who has been an advanced emergency medical technician for 11 of her 12 years with the Springs Fire Department, is not one to toot her own horn.

But lately, others have been all too happy to do it for her.

    On Saturday, with friends, officials, and a good number of her colleagues from the Springs Fire Department on hand, Ms. Haab was presented with a medal of honor from the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York.

   She was previously honored at the organization’s annual convention in August and again last month by Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who presented her with a proclamation.

    Ms. Haab received the firefighter association’s EMS Provider of the Year Award for her actions on Aug. 4, 2012, when she was at Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett and found herself pressed into service to help save the life of a 77-year-old man who had broken his neck after being rumbled in the surf while boogie boarding with his granddaughter.

    Stuart Herman of Springs and Port Washington was at Saturday’s presentation at the Springs Firehouse with his wife, Sarah, to meet Ms. Haab for the first time since his rescue.

    “I’m very fortunate, very fortunate to have Karen save me,” Mr. Herman said.

    Ms. Haab said she was at the beach with friends for the annual Clamshell Foundation Sandcastle Contest when she noticed commotion around Mr. Herman and saw two people pulling him from the water.

    “I didn’t remember this at the time, but I asked my boyfriend, ‘Should I help?’ ” Ms. Haab said, “and before he could answer I was gone.”

    Ms. Haab first stabilized Mr. Herman’s neck and then began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation when he stopped breathing and turned blue. Lifeguards and another E.M.T. soon arrived with a backboard and an automatic defibrillator, allowing Ms. Haab to direct the rescue effort until an ambulance arrived. Mr. Herman was first taken to Southampton Hospital and then transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital after an M.R.I. revealed two fractured vertebrae in his neck.

    Ms. Haab received her award from Robert McConville of Selden, the first vice president of the firefighter association, and Eugene Perry of Patchogue, one of its directors. Mr. McConville said he was proud to report that three of the most recent six recipients of the award have come from Suffolk County.

    Springs Fire Chief Ben Miller said the award was something that his entire department could be proud of. “It truly goes to all the members of the Springs Fire Department,” he said.

   Sarah Herman said her husband had made a remarkable recovery, recalling how his right arm was paralyzed for a time after the accident, although she said she didn’t think he would be doing any more boogie boarding.

    Mr. Herman said he couldn’t recall much of the accident. He said the last thing he remembered, he was taking turns riding in on the boogie board with his 9-year-old granddaughter when he lost the board and dived under a wave to retrieve it. He regained consciousness at the hospital.

    Spirits were light on Saturday, with Mr. Herman joking with Ross Perchik of the Clamshell Foundation about whether his accident disrupted the sandcastle contest. “Except for one little incident, it was pretty cool,” Mr. Perchik replied.

    Mr. Herman said he only regretted that he was unconscious in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, saying, “I could have at least seen her help me in her civilian garb,” a comment that brought a smile to Ms. Haab’s face.

    So what was she wearing at the time of the rescue? “A royal blue bikini,” she said.