May 21—Anthony Garofalo nearly died of cardiac arrest in October, within feet of his wife and children inside their Staten Island home.
Instead, he stood very much alive at the FDNY's 25th Annual Second Chance Ceremony on Tuesday, in awe of the FDNY members who saved his life and able to recount the harrowing experience.
"No one gave up," said Garofalo, of Annadale, following the ceremony in Brooklyn. "They just kept pulling for me. I'm just truly blessed and thankful."
The 47-year-old was one of 10 survivors who met in person with the men and women who assisted in saving their lives over the past year. The survivors shook hands and posed for photos with their rescuers, then shared brunch with them after the ceremony.
"Year after year, this event is an opportunity for our members to see the positive outcome of their hard work, dedication, discipline and achievement," said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
Garofalo recounted the near death experience in October.
"I remember going for a run, coming home, sitting down talking with my family and getting ready to jump in the shower," he said. "After that, it was pretty much lights out."
EMTs and firefighters with Station 23 in Rossville and Engine Co. 167 in Annadale arrived first and performed CPR and administered two shocks with the defibrillator, according to the FDNY.
A second wave of emergency medical personnel arrived next, at which point they inserted a breathing tube, administered resuscitation medications and executed 11 more shocks with the defibrillator. He was then rushed to Staten Island University Hospital, Ocean Breeze, where he eventually would recover.
"I just want to give them a hug, and thank them," said Garofalo.
Also recognized Tuesday was native Staten Islander Brittany Smith, and the FDNY members who saved her life in 1998, when, as a 2-year-old, she swallowed a toy-sized billiard ball.
She not only survived the incident, but now has a 2-year-old of her own.
Some of the survivors spoke Tuesday about a second lease on life.
"I have a wonderful wife and two beautiful children," said Garofalo. "I don't know what I would do not seeing them everyday and being their to help them."