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    Monday, March 20, 2023

    First responders honored in Waterford

    Two school nurses from the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut and four paramedics from L+M Hospital were among those honored recently for the lifesaving care they provided to a student at Clark Lane Middle School in Waterford.

    Maria Kostopoulos, RN, and Erica McCaffrey, RN, both nurses at Clark Lane, and paramedics Jason Vincent, Paul Rafuse, Josh Pearson and Caitlin Gauvin were the first responders in a “chain of survival” that helped a student survive. Also honored were dispatchers Devon and Robert from Waterford Communications Center, Jonah and Brandon from the Waterford Fire Department, and Mark, Mary Jane and Brandon from Waterford Ambulance.

    According to the nurses, students rushed into the nurse’s office one day last October to report that a student was down and unconscious. The nurses responded immediately, rushing to the student and performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Meanwhile, L+M paramedics were nearby when they got the call and arrived at the school just minutes later.

    “What happened on these grounds was nothing short of an amazing miracle,” said Waterford First Selectman Rob Brule. “It was an amazing effort by all of you, trained professionals who did the right thing when time was of the essence, and that’s what heroes are made of.”

    Some compared the student’s survival to the recent incident when an NFL football player dropped on the field of sudden cardiac arrest. “The world was captivated with the Demar Hamlin situation,” said Thomas W. Giard III, superintendent of Waterford Schools. “Yet we had a very similar incident here three months prior that captivated the school community and the greater Waterford community. Everyone acted on their training, they acted on their instincts, and they acted in the best interest of the person who was on the receiving end of that care.”

    Board of Education Chair Pat Fedor said her definition of a hero is anyone who does an extraordinary thing during their everyday lives. “That’s exactly what these individuals did,” she said. “You are heroes. Clark Lane has heroes in the building.”

    Mark Greczkowski, director of Operations for the Waterford Ambulance Service, said the student’s life-saving care was part of a “systematic response from medical professionals” that linked together a “chain of survival” starting at the scene and continuing on to L+M Hospital and its Emergency Department. “Each link in the chain was present,” he said. “The Waterford community was fortunate to have such a dedicated team involved in this patient’s care.”

    Ron Kersey, manager of L+M EMS/Emergency Management, praised the work of everyone, and then gave the paramedics an extra shout out: “I just want them to know, that from my heart, I thank all of you what you did that day,” he said. “Each one of them gets up in the morning, laces up their boots and puts on the uniform, hoping that they’ll make a difference in someone’s life. They truly made a difference in someone’s life, and for that, again, I can’t thank you enough and tell you how proud I am of the entire team. Josh, Paul, Jay, Caitlin – you’re the best of the best, and I appreciate everything you do.”

    Craig Mittleman, MD, medical director of Emergency Services, noted that while teachers nurture the minds and souls of their students, the education they received by watching adults responded with professionalism is immeasurable.

    “The impact that you had on all of the students here is an education that can’t be overstated,” Dr. Mittleman said. “What a powerful message and education – and a sense of empowerment – that you’ve given not only to the school but to all the children and the families that you serve.”

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