Heart Attack Victim Saved in ‘First Success’

A 66-year-old man, whose name was not released, called 911 on the morning of July 9 complaining of chest pain, nausea, and profuse perspiration
Nick Calace, third from right, a paid paramedic with the Amagansett Fire Department ambulance company, has been recognized for the care he gave a patient having a heart attack on July 9. He posed for a photograph with the fire district commissioners, from left, Jack Emptage, J. Kent Howie, William Vorpahl Jr., Daniel R. Shields II, and Carl Hamilton.

A paid paramedic working for the Amagansett Fire Department has been recognized for the care he gave a heart attack patient earlier this month.

A 66-year-old man, whose name was not released, called 911 on the morning of July 9 complaining of chest pain, nausea, and profuse perspiration — classic signs of a heart attack in men — after going on a 12-mile bicycle ride.

Nick Calace was on duty that day, and arrived to evaluate the patient’s condition within four minutes of the call. Following his protocols, he assessed the man with the help of a mobile electrocardiograph and defibrillator, which the paramedics carry with them in Amagansett’s first-responder vehicles.

In a letter to the Amagansett Board of Fire Commissioners, Jade Fallon, one of the new program’s supervisors, wrote that Mr. Calace “quickly identified the patient was having a heart attack in an area of the heart we call ‘The Widowmaker.’ Death to this part of the heart frequently results in cardiac arrest.”

The paramedic transmitted the EKG results to Stony Brook University Hospital, and doctors decided the patient should be airlifted to the hospital, which has a cardiac catheterization laboratory for treatments he would not be able to receive at Southampton Hospital. The patient was alert and conscious. As Mr. Calace prepared the man for transport, he took a second 12-lead EKG, which showed the situation was rapidly worsening.

“In my opinion we had the first great success of the program,” Ms. Fallon wrote. “Nick’s rapid response and treatment likely saved this man’s life. A proud day for us all.”

The staff at the “cath lab” at Stony Brook agreed. Pamela Kostic, a registered nurse and chest pain coordinator, thanked the ambulance team for “saving this man’s life” in a letter sent to the Amagansett Fire Department the next day. “Performing the second EKG and transmitting both made the difference for him and his family. The Cath Lab staff have been praising your department all day,” Ms. Kostic wrote.

Mr. Calace, 23, has been working as a paramedic for two years and was a critical care technician for two years before that. A Hampton Bays resident, he also works for the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association and the Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance.

He was among the advanced life support personnel, necessary in major trauma or heart attack calls, hired by the Amagansett Fire District this spring when the district instituted a paid emergency medical service program. (Basic emergency medical technicians do not have the same skills and cannot use the same equipment.) District commissioners budgeted $150,000 for the program.

“The program basically paid for itself in one save,” said Dwayne Denton, chief of the Amagansett Fire Department.

The board of fire commissioners congratulated Mr. Calace immediately upon hearing of the save. “By this happening, we accomplished what we set out to do — protect our local community the best we could. That’s why we’re so thrilled,” said Daniel R. Shields II, its chairman.

At the launch of Amagansett’s program, paid personnel worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. From May 15 to Sept. 15, a paid provider answers calls 24 hours a day. The district had been without advanced life-support services since December.

Volunteers continue to drive the ambulance and to offer basic life support. Mr. Shields said the paid personnel and the volunteers are “intermixing well. It’s actually working out beautiful. Everybody’s getting along.”