A Staten Island bagpiper who had a heart attack while performing at a Brooklyn baseball game last year was almost speechless Tuesday when the FDNY reunited him with the first responders and good Samaritans who saved his life.
“It’s nothing short of amazing. It’s very overwhelming,” Raymond Wasson, 50, told The Post. “I can’t put it into words … what do you say to someone who saved your life?”
Wasson was one of nine cardiac arrest patients brought back together with their first responders at the FDNY’s 25th annual Second Chance Ceremony in Red Hook in front of a crowd of around 100.
The yearly celebration, which coincides with National EMS Week, has reunited more than 200 people with the men and women who saved them over the years.
The other survivors in attendance this year included a Queens reverend who had a heart attack at the altar last October, and an FDNY firefighter who collapsed in front of colleagues while at work last September.
Wasson, a recently retired US marshal, had just finished a bagpipe performance at a Brooklyn Cyclones game at Coney Island’s MCU Park last August when he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.
Three bystanders — who just happened to be a paramedic and two registered nurses — sprung into action and performed CPR on Wasson, keeping him alive until FDNY paramedics came to his aid.
“They didn’t even know me and they rushed to my aid. They saved my life. How do you repay somebody like that?” Wasson said of his heroes after meeting them again for the first time.
Wasson only remembers talking to a friend before waking up in an ambulance with no recollection of the life-saving work that had just taken place.
On Tuesday, he met nurses Kelly Ryman O’Malley and Stephanie Donnellan and paramedic Robert Lederman from Maimonides Hospital for the first time — as well as FDNY paramedics Marvin Zuniga, Anthony Marascia, EMTs Carlos Olivera and Joshua Haber and FDNY Lieutenant Scott Rothchild of Station 43.
“How do you thank them enough? It’s overwhelming, it really is,” Wasson said, beaming after personally shaking each person’s hand.
“Flowers smell a lot sweeter now. You don’t take anything for granted. It’s amazing.”
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the annual event is always a moving, tear-jerking ceremony.
“I remember those first years of our Second Chance Ceremony — seeing the reunions and witnessing the tears, not only in the eyes of our patients, but also on the faces of the members who saved them,” he said.
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