FDNY EMS Lt. David Cira heard a dispatch call to aid a person suffering chest pains near his lower Manhattan station and figured he was jumping up to answer a routine request for assistance.
Moments later, Cira, 38, and two colleagues found themselves desperately trying to revive a staffer for the NBA’s Houston Rockets.
The man was unconscious near the foul line inside a Basketball City gym off the FDR Drive near Montgomery St. about 11:30 a.m. But the players didn’t seem to be aware he’d gone into cardiac arrest.
“They were talking to him as if he would respond,” Cira said hours later during an interview inside Station 4. “They didn’t realize the gravity of the situation.”
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That all changed as Cira, along with his boss, Deputy Chief Dinorah Claudio, 50, and EMT Joe Siciliano, 29, furiously performed chest compressions on the man.
Some of the players went to the side of the gym and began to pray as they held hands. Others looked away.
The medics couldn’t even shock the man with a defibrillator because his system had totally shutdown.
“It’s a very serious condition,” Cira said.
Every two minutes they checked his status through updates issued by an automatic external defibrillator.
After six minutes, the staffer’s pulse returned and he began to breathe a bit on his own. An ambulance team then transported the man to Bellevue Hospital.
The FDNY rescue team at first didn’t realize the gym — right behind their station — was being used by the Houston Rockets ahead of their game Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets.
“They were too big to be high school kids,” Siciliano recalled thinking at the time.
“We were too focused on the patient,” Cira added.
Cira recognized former Knicks and current Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni as the staffer was being taken to Bellevue.
“He was standing off to the side,” he said. “He looked very concerned.”
The team was relieved to hear the stricken staffer was speaking inside the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
“It’s always a good high,” said Claudio, who has been on the job for 27 years. “This is what we signed up for. It’s not only about tragedy and death. Hopefully he will have many more days with his family.”
The staffer was fortunate the FDNY medical team members were nearby and all at the station at the same time.
“All conditions were right,” Cira said.
Rockets officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
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