Tag Archives: Westport Emergency Medical Service

Harrison Malec’s Heart

It’s a compelling story, though one that did not receive much publicity at the time.

On September 14, Harrison Malec was running with fellow youth rowers from the Saugatuck Rowing Club.  Suddenly, the 14-year-old collapsed.

Teammate Will Cromwell immediately started CPR.  Coach Sharon Kriz called 911.  Westport EMS paramedics were there within 4 minutes, followed by police and fire personnel.

They took over CPR, applied a cardiac monitor, shocked Harrison’s heart back into a normal rhythm, stabilized him, and took him to the hospital.

Tests revealed an extremely rare cardiac abnormality. After open heart surgery, Harrison returned to school 6 weeks later.  He’s expected to fully recover.

To say thanks, William Raveis Realty — where Harrison’s mother Joelle works — held a fundraiser for EMS.  The Malec family then presented Westport EMS members with a check and a plaque.

Harrison Malec (3rd from left), his parents, coach, Raveis representatives and EMS members -- including coordinator Marc Hartog, 2nd from right -- at the presentation. (Photo/April Book)

Marc Hartog, EMS coordinator, said that in over 30 years as a paramedic, he could could on two hands the number of cardiac arrest patients he’s treated who walk out of the hospital to lead fully productive.

And, he added, “this is the first time one of them has come back in person to thank us.”

What?!

EMS and other people save your life, and you don’t go back to thank them?!

How could those people have been saved?  They didn’t even have hearts to begin with.

(For information on CPR classes — offered free to Westport residents — click here or call 203-341-6030.)

An EMT Acts Up

Every once in a while, patients peers at Westport EMT Marc Hartog strangely.

“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” they ask.

Usually they do — and it has nothing to do with an ambulance gurney.  They recognize Hartog from his community theater work.  The veteran medic is also a talented actor.  It’s an incongruous pairing — but he’s passionate about both parts of his life.

Hartog — a certified paramedic — has a master’s degree in public administration.  He’s directed St. Clare’s Hospital’s EMS department, and its emergency room.

He got married in 1990, moved to Connecticut, and commuted to New York.  But when a job opened up with Westport Emergency Medical Service he leaped at the chance to spend more time with his family.  He became a paramedic crew chief, and now serves as coordinator.

Haven't I seen you somewhere? Marc Hartog the actor...

All along, Hartog was a theater buff.  In high school he worked the back end — tech, lighting, running crew — and occasionally acted.  He continued his involvement in college.

“In New York there’s not a lot of work if you’re not a professional,” he notes.  His wife is an actress too, but not until they moved to Connecticut did they discover local theater.

Hartog has performed often with the Westport Community Theater.  He’s also worked in Wilton, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Milford.  He’s taken on many roles, in everything from murder mysteries and dramas to comedies.

He appreciates “the great bunch of people” who comprise the community theater world.  And, he admits, getting a response from an audience is “a huge boost.”

Despite vast differences, Hartog sees similarities between theater and emergency medicine.  “You find yourself in a lot of different situations in EMS,” he says.  “You have to improvise, and really think on your feet.”

...and Marc Hartog the EMT.

In community theater as in EMS, Hartog interacts with people he doesn’t know.  Developing quick rapport and trust with patients is akin to meeting a new cast, and learning to work together.

Hartog also does plenty of public speaking and teaching for EMS.  His ease in front of a crowd comes from his experience on stage.

Over the next 3 weekends Hartog performs in the Darien Arts Center’s “Almost, Maine.”  The romantic comedy is a series of vignettes, with 9 actors playing 19 roles.

As usual, a few fellow EMTs may see the show.

Then there are the theatergoers who watch Hartog perform, not knowing they’ll see him again in his white EMS uniform.

“It’s nice to be recognized,” he says.  “And if they’re able to remember me from a show, then I know it’s not the most serious medical call.”

(“Almost, Maine” will be performed on Friday and Saturday, March 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26, at 8 p.m.; there are Sunday matinees March 13 and 20 at 2 p.m.  Tickets are available online at www.arts.darien.org, or by phone at 203-655-5414.)