Here’s something you definitely don’t see everyday, especially in the pages of the NY Times. The Times published a story about NYPD officers saving the life of a visitor to the city who collapsed from a heart attack nearly two weeks ago. His name is Axel Farhi and he was visiting from his home in France because his two adult children live in the city. As he and his wife and son were walking toward a subway station on a warm Saturday afternoon, Axel suddenly dropped to the pavement.
Fortunately for him, there were two NYPD officers just steps away in the lobby of the building where he went down. Twenty-six-year-old Eddie Griffin and 24-year-old Lily Graham ran to his side. Graham has been on the force for three years but she started volunteering with an ambulance corps in New Jersey at age 15 and became a certified EMT at age 17. She immediately took over and attempted to save his life.
“Axel,” Officer Graham says. “Axel.”
She cradles his head with her left hand and begins rubbing his sternum with her right. He briefly flinches to this stimulus of pain, which is good. But saliva is pooling in his mouth, which is bad.
Officer Graham and Officer Griffin turn Mr. Farhi onto his right side. Officer Graham continues to rub his sternum, but he does not flinch, and his pulse is a whisper…
The officers lay Mr. Farhi on his back, and Officer Graham begins to administer chest compressions at a steady, rhythmic pace, to keep the heart pumping and the blood circulating to the brain. Keep the heart going, she is thinking. Full compression, decompression.…
Officer Graham is unaware that the man’s wife is keeping panic at bay by watching her assured competence. “I was just trying to fix on something, and I fixed on Lily,” Ms. Farhi later said. “Her determination was kind of keeping me going.”
An ambulance arrived and Axel was quickly loaded into the back. At the hospital, doctors determined it was a heart attack caused by a blockage of “left anterior descending artery.” This type of attack is frequently referred to as a widowmaker but in this case there won’t be a widow.
Axel Farhi survived and is now recovering. The doctor who helped clear the clots and added a stent to the artery praised the care given by Officer Graham as “excellent.” Her swift action saved him from permanent brain damage and probably saved his life. Fahri got a chance to thank her in person. You can watch the video here.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s not often in your life that you have the ability and the possibility to thank the people who saved your life,” Farhi said. “I will be eternally grateful to all of them.”
I was curious what the reaction to this story would be from NY Times subscribers. I’m glad to see it was overwhelmingly positive:
- “I am a NYTimes subscriber. I want to see more stories like these about the heroics of our uniformed city workers.”
- “Yay!!!!!! Special Kudos to the NYPD, NYFD, and all NYC EMS workers who know their stuff and exhibit their knowledge on a daily basis.”
- “Thank you for reporting and sharing this story. I like that this is a story of virtuous deeds. This is how society should operate, and isn’t it wonderful to know that the hours Officer Graham spent as a teen learning how to save lives built to this moment that changes the history of a family. Way to go!!!”
- “Man, do we need more stories like this. Thank you everyone … including mr. Barry.”
- “I am weeping tears of joy. Everything turned out as well as it could have. The police officers…well, we hear so much that is wrong with NYPD, and here are two angels of mercy, saving a life, just like that. What a story. “
- “It is so reassuring to read a story like this. It validates our common connection and the humanity we all share.”
- “Thank you for this, and I’m grateful for the professionals on the NYC police force and all the essential service, first responders that quietly, skillfully and compassionately work to keep us safe.”
I could go on but you get the idea. A lot of people are just glad to read something positive about the police in a major newspaper. There are a lot of good people in the NYPD (and in every police force) who are using their skills to keep people safe and alive. But the good stories don’t always get the same attention as the very worst ones.
There was another story this month about another young NYPD officer with EMT training who helped save a life. That incident happened on July 7 when an officer responded to a report of a stabbing and found a victim with a chest wound. He ordered a bystander to grab a back of potato chips from a nearby bodega and, after emptying the chips, used the bag to seal the would by taping it to the victim’s chest, preventing his lungs from collapsing. Here’s a local news report on that story.