Life At The Y

Last Friday was a typical summer day at the Y.  Swimmers swam; cyclists cycled; basketball players basketballed.

Suddenly, around noon, a player in one of those pickup hoops games dropped to the floor.

He was in full cardiac arrest.

A fellow player — the guest of a member, who is a nurse — began chest compressions.  Others ran for help.

Michael Friedman

Michael Friedman — a health and wellness specialist in the fitness center — was standing in the doorway.  Like every Y staffer — from the CEO on down — he’s been trained and regularly re-certified in both CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) use.

Michael grabbed the nearest AED unit — there are 3; this one was by the membership desk — and ran to the gym.

Ignoring a large head gash — sustained when the man collapsed — Michael checked for vital signs.  All were negative.  There was no pulse.

He attached the AED.  It recommended a shock.  He followed the prompts, and administered one.  Immediately, cardiac rhythm was restored.

“That’s a blessing,” Michael says.  “The best blood pump in the world is your own heart.  He wasn’t without a pulse for very long.”

Michael secured the man’s airway.  Then he and membership coordinator Steve Forlano attended to his  head wound.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Y staff followed the exact protocol they train for.  The membership desk called 911.  Someone waited outside to escort emergency personnel through the maze of hallways to the gym.

When firefighters, police and EMTs arrived, they took over.  Soon, the man was on his way to Norwalk Hospital.

The next day, his fianceé called the Y to thank everyone.  He could have died, she said.  Instead he had an angioplasty (and 17 stitches in his head), and will be fine.

He’ll be released from the hospital tomorrow.

Michael has a special background.  He spent 20 years with Weston’s fire department and EMTs.  But, he insists, “anyone in the building would have done what I did.

“It was a real team effort.  There were so many people involved.  I still don’t know all their names.

“There was an awesome continuum of care,” he adds. “From the minute he hit the floor to the end result, he had excellent care.

AEDs -- with clear instructions on how to use them -- save lives.

“AEDs were in place.  We were trained to use them.  Westport EMTs are some of the best in the country, so the pre-hospital help was fantastic.  And then Norwalk Hospital followed up with more great care.”

Michael concludes:  “I feel proud of the Y, and the team effort that took place.  I’m just glad I could take the training we’re all given, and apply it when it was needed.”

Michael had the weekend off.  He returns to the Y this week.

Soon, he’ll move to part-time status.  He’s headed to Norwalk Community College, taking courses in physical therapy.

He could probably skip the first-aid portion of the curriculum.

Then again, Michael Friedman never would.

19 responses to “Life At The Y

  1. Dan, great story but one correction, I think. While the Y does fantastic work at emergency treatment, I’m guessing that the man will be released from the hospital, not the Y.

    • Yep — my original story had the reference Ann noted above. I’ve changed it to reflect the reality of what she so gently pointed out.

  2. Not surprising that Michael and the rest of the Y staff responded as they did. They are all great.

  3. Jane Nordli Jessep

    Please send my best regards to Michael. I got to know him when he was doing some security work at Hurlbutt Elementary school when I taught there. He was always lending a hand above and beyond the call of duty. He helped me during one of my concerts,the theme of which was the “Wild West” and he dressed up just as I did and the kids, cowboys and cowgirls. A real “mensch”. This story of his saving a man’s life didn’t surprise me but it did inspire me.

  4. The Dude Abides

    The folks have been and obviously continue to be, the BEST!!!!

  5. Another example that our Y is a professionally run, first class organization (in a shabby, roof-leaking building) and truly one of Westport and Weston’s major assets to the community. No wonder it continues to prevail despite all the years of opposition and controversy, I hope the entire community rallies behind the Y’s campaign to build the new facility.

    • The “shabby, roof leaking building” houses many memories for many of us. All of them priceless. I wish you pro-move people would lighten up and worry about raising the 43 million instead of preaching to many who really liked downtown because of the YMCA.

      • Memories are always good, and should be cherished, but it is time to move on and begin adding new memories with a state of the art facility. Taking what was built and remaining an asset to the community. Yes, move on – embrace the furture and what it can hold for everyone.

        • I concur with you philosophy and don’t condemn a new facility although I am not gonna bike out there for a quick swim/steam. What I am amazed at in these most difficult economic times is the continued pursuit of “state of the art” facilities. You want to raise 43 million for a new YMCA, 200 grand for a new hot dog stand at Longshore. Are we living in a bubble??? I had a consult with a local attorney the other day and he told me most of his clients are nearly two years in arrears on their mortgages. Time for a reality check.

  6. Dan, I just want to thank you having this blog and keeping the community informed about all that goes on in our town, good or bad. Westport wouldn’t be the same without you.

    • Carl Addison Swanson

      The Professor writes the blog for free. He does accept contributions to keep the blog going at 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880.

  7. A lesson to us all. Learn CPR yourself. Thanks Micheal for saving a life. It can not get better than that.

    • Ilene Mirkine

      …And it does not get any better than Michael Friedman. We are so lucky to have him at the Y, and on so many levels. This gentleman was lucky to have Michael tending to him with every detail covered.

  8. God bless Michael and all the others who jump in to take charge and don’t sit back and wait for someone else to do it.

  9. Jessica, really bad form to bring the New Y/Old Y politics into this uplifting story. It leaves one wondering if next you’ll try to link President Obama to the saving of this man’s life….

  10. Dan Schneiderman

    I was there.I was the “member” who invited the guest. Both the guest and Micahel are true heros.
    The other staff memebers also acted quickly.
    It is comforting to know that trained professionals are working at the Y.

  11. Thanks to Michael and people like him for being there. This training is crucial and life-saving – no doubt about it.

  12. Michael is a jewel. We are grateful to have him at the Y and I’m always grateful to have him in my class!!