May 9—Two mild-mannered EMTs turned into a crime-fighting duo in the Bronx Monday night and foiled a bike-riding robber who grabbed a woman's bag.
EMT Stuart Saladin and his rookie partner Zach Arias, both from Station 18, were driving through the West Bronx when they saw a robbery-in-progress unfold right before their eyes.
"A couple was walking down Webster Ave. and as we drove by I saw a guy on a bike, riding really fast, and he literally just snatched her purse from her. I heard her scream, and I was like, 'Holy Cow, we can't let this guy get away with this.'"
Saladin, 48, who's been on the job seven years, grabbed the ambulance mic and began shouting, "Drop the purse! Drop the purse!"
His voice, along with the flashing lights, scared the robber into letting go of the woman's bag just before he disappeared around the next block.
Saladin and Arias handed the purse back to the woman, who began to cry, the EMTs said.
"She was so relieved, she kept thanking us," Saladin said.
The EMTs radioed the NYPD so the couple could file a police report.
The cops said they were already on the alert for the sticky-fingered robber because he'd grabbed someone's cell phone earlier, Saladin said.
One of the officers snapped a picture of Saladin and Arias with the happy couple and suggested they consider a career change, the EMT said.
"He was like, 'Why not become a cop? You'd be great at it,'" Saladin laughed. "But I love the FDNY. It's a great adventure."
EMS union head Oren Barzilay said he was glad his members were there to help -- even if crime-fighting isn't officially part of their job description.
"Our members are always trying to serve the public any way they can," he said.