Paramedics come to the medical aid of people every day, but Friday marked a special occasion in which two Sault paramedics were personally thanked by a man who they brought back from the brink of death.
Gene Biocchi, joined by daughter Julia and several other family members, expressed his gratitude to paramedics Adam Bering and Kara Ribic at the City of Sault Ste. Marie Regional Emergency Services Complex at 65 Old Garden River Rd., home to the No. 4 Fire and EMS station and central ambulance communications centre.
It was a time of hugs and tears, in which Gene gratefully told Bering and Ribic, with family members, EMS officials and reporters present, he wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for their help.
Biocchi shared his story with SooToday.
“It was May 25th and I was working at Cedarwood Lodge (where he works as a housekeeper) and I was going home for lunch. I left the house at 20 minutes after 1 p.m., I remember locking the door to my house, turning around and walking a few steps, then my head went spinning, and the next thing I remember I woke up in hospital in Sudbury.”
“I want to thank Adam and Kara for saving my life.”
A passerby noticed Gene lying on the front lawn of his Third Line home, a stone’s throw from Sault Area Hospital, and called 9-1-1.
Paramedics Bering and Ribic were on their way back from another call and rushed to help Gene, performing CPR on him at his home, then transported him to SAH.
Gene, 57, who told us he had no previous history of heart trouble, was clinically dead for about two minutes.
Gene had a stent implanted in his chest, but then suffered septic shock, which is a serious medical condition described as organ injury resulting from infection.
“People who go septic usually die but I came out of it and here I am today.”
Gene is currently off work and recovering, going for cardiac therapy at Sault College three days a week for 10 weeks and taking blood thinners.
“We were coming back from the airport (from another call) heading toward the hospital when we got a call for a gentleman who was unconscious on Third Line,” paramedic Bering recalled.
“We performed CPR and were able to get him to hospital quickly because it’s just across the street.”
“This doesn’t happen every day,” Bering said, referring to the seriousness of Gene’s situation and Friday’s special occasion.
“We do a lot of emergency calls, but having somebody who was dead come back to life and want to meet us is awesome for me. This is the best part of the job, I would say.”
Bering grinned and modestly shrugged off the term ‘hero’ but said “it does feel very good and I’m glad I was able to be on that call and help him, and have him here today.”
“I feel very proud of our service and the work we do. It isn’t very often this kind of recognition and celebration happens. That’s not why we do this job, but yes, it does touch a soft spot in the heart,” Ribic said.
“Through training, just like the military, your body takes over automatically and you just start doing the work you’ve been trained to do. You see their anatomy instead of as a person, but I’ve shed a few tears after I’ve done a hard call, when the family shows up and you realize this is a real person.”
“I was nervous to come here today,” Ribic smiled with tears in her eyes.
“I’ve never been approached by somebody I’ve saved before.”
“It feels good. It’s very nice to see Gene and the whole family here,” Ribic said.