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Grateful Patients Are Reunited With Their First Responders

It was a day of celebration mixed with fond remembrances of friends and colleagues whose lives continue to inspire during Northwell Health’s Dr. Michael G. Gutttenberg Second Chance Luncheon.

Dozens of patients gathered at the Inn at New Hyde Park on Tuesday to meet the EMTs, paramedics and physicians who gave them a “second chance at life.” This annual event took place during national EMS Week, with the theme being “honoring our past…forging our future.”

The event is named after Michael Guttenberg, MD, former medical director of Northwell’s clinical preparedness and CEMS who died in 2017 after a nearly five-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Prior to joining Northwell, Dr. Guttenberg served as a first responder who worked at Ground Zero in the weeks following the World Trade Center terror attacks on September 11, 2001.

“The idea of having an event that brought together first responders with the people they saved was the brainchild of Dr. Guttenberg,” said Alan Schwalberg, vice president of emergency medical services at Northwell. “We’re here today to bring together survivors of cardiac arrest with the people who saved them. This was the dream of Dr. Guttenberg and the best way for us to honor him.”

On hand to represent the many grateful patients were Howard and Glenda Lynch of Rosedale, Queens. Two years, ago, Ms. Lynch called for help when her husband began to experience chest pain. (He already had a history of cardiac disease that required the placement of five stents).

“Two paramedics arrived to find that my husband had no pulse,” said Ms. Lynch. “While we were on our way to LIJ Valley Stream Hospital, he experienced four separate cardiac incidents; it turns out that he was having another heart attack.”

After hugging a group of first responders, Ms. Lynch said, “It’s not often that we get a chance to save the people who give us a second chance at life. We still have so much to do in this life – we’re not finished. We’re so honored to be able to thank everyone here today.”

Northwell’s EMS is one of the largest hospital-based mobile health programs in New York City and Long Island. CEMS employs approximately 1,000 people, mostly EMTs and paramedics, communication specialists, support staff, billing personnel and others.

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