NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Several local firefighters and EMS personnel received honors from the town this week for saving a man who had collapsed with a cardiac arrest during the annual Blessing of the Fleet Road Race in July.
“As a result of their swift and heroic efforts, that man, Philip Gingras, and his family are with us this evening,” Town Manager James Tierney said at Monday night’s Town Council meeting. “We’re so happy that he could be with us and so happy that his family still has him.”
The road race typically brings thousands of participants to Narragansett, and this year was especially well-attended after a two-year absence. Gingras, a 33-year-old from Plainville, Massachusetts, was taking part in the 10-mile in-person run.
The well-planned road race uses fire and emergency services personnel from a range of organizations to provide support and medical help if needed. They line the route at regular intervals.
Firefighter Christopher Dubowski was assigned to Ocean Road at mile marker three. Dubowski was using a Gator, a specialized ATV with medical equipment.
“I remember telling him, ‘Don’t worry about that zone, nothing happens, nothing’s ever happened there,” Narragansett Fire Department Chief Scott Partington said. “Well, something did happen there.”
The race command post got a call that a man had collapsed, was unresponsive, not breathing and in cardiac arrest.
“Something that we’ve planned for, we prepare for, but we had yet to experience it at any time that I know of during this race, and I’ve been here 30 years,” Partington said.
Gingras had experienced a cardiac arrest, and Dubowski was the first person to help him. Dubowski started CPR on Gingras and was able to identify what Partington said was a life-threatening heart rhythm. He also called for more help.
“We had a medical team on him very quickly, defibrillated him and were able to revive him quite quickly,” Partington said.
Dubowski received a commendation bar and certificate for his work that day.
Also honored were the team of Lt. Charles Lacoste and firefighter Aubrie Blanchette, who were working on Rescue 2 that day. They gave Gingras treatment after he had been resuscitated and then took him to South County Hospital.
Lt. Chris Demers and probationary firefighter Thomas Boyer received unit commendations for responding to the scene with Engine 2. They provided additional aid and prepared Gingras for his transport to the hospital. Firefighter Dominic Polseno, also on a Gator, arrived with Dubowski and helped with post-resuscitation efforts, care, treatment and readying Gingras for transport.
“We also had volunteer participants who were running in the race who helped,” Partington said.
One of them was Diane McKeeff, a nurse practitioner and medical provider to the fire department.
“She was actually one of the first bystanders to render aid for Philip while he was down,” Partington said. She received the EMS Chain of Survival Certificate. The certificate is awarded to civilians for significant accomplishments or actions during an incident.
The award recognizes one who advances patient care “to a high degree of professionalism and compassion.”
Another race runner was Narragansett Fire Department Lt. Kevin McEnery, also a Chain of Survival Certificate recipient.
“A lot of the standards and professionalism we insist on in the training is driven by Kevin,” Partington said. “He assisted the crews there with treatment, confirmed what they were seeing on the monitor and helped to reaffirm the care that they were providing, and then went on to complete the race, along with Diane.”
Also, volunteer Nicholas Linacre with the state Disaster Medical Assistance Team and two Narragansett Surf Rescue Team members, Brian Guadagno and David Pezzullo, involved with the resuscitation efforts received certificates.
“They have a terrific squad over there and we work very well together,” Partington said of the surf rescue team. “Over the years we’ve incorporated them into these large events, particularly the Blessing of the Fleet Road Race.”