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Neighborhood of Good Samaritans helps save man’s life

Updated: 2013-02-28T05:18:46Z

By ROBERT A. CRONKLETON

The Kansas City Star

It’s common to hear tales of Good Samaritans helping motorists stuck in the snow, but rarely does their work help save someone’s life.

On Tuesday, residents around the 400 block of East 74th Street got credit for doing just that.

A miracle, some say, on 74th Street.

The miracle was set in motion around noon when a neighbor suffered cardiac arrest after shoveling snow.

“The snow was thick and heavy, and as we were coming around the corner, our ambulance got stuck,” said paramedic Tara Hill, who responded to the call. “I told my partner to get the gear and we went up to the house.”

David Kissick, who lives near the intersection, was out talking with neighbors about the difficulties ambulances were having when they heard sirens and saw the ambulance try to turn onto their street.

“They were definitely in a hurry,” Kissick said. “The ambulance just stopped when they got stuck and then the wheels started spinning.”

When the neighbors realized the ambulance wasn’t going to move, he said, they ran over started digging it out.

They passed the paramedics who were rushing to the neighbor’s house.

Teenage brother and sister Nikhil and Angela Fenani, who had been shoveling out a neighbor’s car, quickly joined in. And so did others in the Waldo neighborhood, about a dozen in all.

“It was obviously an emergency,” Angela Fenani said. “There were so many people working, it was done quickly.”

Once the ambulance was free, the neighbors didn’t stop there.

“We just started making a path,” said Cecil Logan, who had been staying at his mother-in-law’s house nearby.

“We were just breaking up the ice and clearing the street.”

Police moved the ambulance forward to the house, where Logan and others shoveled out a trail in the snow so a stretcher could move smoothly from house to ambulance.

Paramedics were working to resuscitate the patient when a police officer came up the stairs carrying a backboard. Hill asked where he got it, and he said from the ambulance out front. She thought the second ambulance they had requested had arrived.

As crew members brought the sick man outside, Hill said, they realized there was no second ambulance. It also got stuck in the neighborhood.

Hill couldn’t believe what the neighbors had done.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Hill, who has been a paramedic in Kansas City for 10 years. “It was amazing. It was absolutely amazing.”

The neighbors’ actions helped them get the patient to hospital faster.

“On scene, he had no pulse and was not breathing,” said Battalion Chief James Garrett, a spokesman for the Kansas City Fire Department.

Paramedics had restored the man’s pulse and breathing by the time the ambulance got him to the hospital.

“Truly those neighbors helped save his life,” Garrett said. “It’s a great story of people helping people.”

Only after it was over did the neighbors stop to think what they had just done, said Monica Kissick, David Kissick’s wife.

“Everybody in this neighborhood is relatively close to one another,” David Kissick said. “We were worried about him more than anything else. If we could save the ambulance half a second, we were going to do it.”

To reach Robert A. Cronkleton, call 816-234-4261 or send email to bcronkleton@kcstar.com.

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