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Quick-thinking athletic trainers save official who suffered cardiac arrest during high school football game


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    FARMINGDALE, New York (WCBS) — Two athletic trainers rushed into action after someone went down during a football game over the weekend on Long Island.

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, their quick actions saved the life a man who has spent years saving others.

“Last memory was just everything going black,” Phil LoNigro said.

On Saturday, while officiating a football game between East Meadow and Farmingdale high schools, LoNigro collapsed on the field.

“I dressed for colder weather, bundled up a little bit. End of the first quarter, I felt really, really hot,” Lonigro said.

“At one moment, there was a lot of screaming, calling for help,” East Meadow High School athletic trainer Dan DeSimone said.

Trainers from both teams sprang into action once they realized LoNigro wasn’t breathing and had no pulse.

“My first instinct was to run for the AED,” Farmingdale High trainer Phil Fandale said.

“We ripped off his shirt, cut the undershirt. I started doing compressions,” DeSimone said.

“The AED won’t advise a shock unless the rhythm stops. At a certain point, the AED said shock advised,” Fandale said. “Within less than a minute, he came to.”

“Next thing I know, people were standing over me saying, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine. Let me up.’ They’re like, no, you’re not getting up,” LoNigro said.

He was loaded into an ambulance and taken to a hospital, where he remains undergoing further testing.

“Today, I’m feeling pretty much OK. My ribs hurt from the CPR,” LoNigro said.

LoNigro has been a Farmingdale firefighter for 40 years.

“Mostly an EMT CC, which is an EMT critical care. I use defibrillators all the time, monitors all the time, so I know what they had to do,” LoNigro said.

He said he has saved about 10 people using them and can’t believe he ended up on the other end of one.

For the two trainers, it was their first time using one on some.

“It’s one of those things we train on an annual basis for,” DeSimone said.

“Just trust your instincts and your training sets in,” Fandale added.

As the two football teams waited, another team worked together to save a life. It was a winning outcome for all.

LoNigro said doctors told him he had low potassium and magnesium, which contributed to cardiac arrest.

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