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Teaneck ambulance crew chief who dragged heart attack crash victim on blanket says he simply improvised

Photo Credit: Teaneck ambulance worker, bystanders rescue heart attack victim in Route 95 pileup

SHOUT OUT: “Sometimes you have to improvise,” said an EMT who dragged a man having a heart attack more than a quarter-mile on a blanket on icy Route 95 in Teaneck with help from bystanders yesterday after a massive pileup.

“One thing I’ve learned though 6,000-plus calls is that there are no textbook cases,” Michael Rothschild told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this afternoon.

CLIFFVIEW PILOT published an exclusive video of yesterday’s rescue, shot with a cellphone by TSA agent Arianny Luna. Several TV networks picked it up, broadcasting and posting the clip online:

With so many area municipalities rushing to so many local calls due to yesterday’s ice-over morning roadaways, members of the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps were on their own.

That meant not only covering 15 other townwide motor vehicle accidents and medical calls but contending with a more-than 30-car pileup on the southbound highway near the Leonia border caused when a tractor-trailer jack-knifed just after 8 a.m.

Sixteen people in all were injured, including a woman who had to be cut from an SUV pinned below a truck in the pileup and the 58-year-old man who Rothschild found in the early stages of a heart attack.

“My partner was taking care of our first couple of patients and I went to look for others,” said Rothschild, a lifelong Teaneck resident and crew chief who just completed his 30th year as a EMT.

The rear-seated passenger “had symptoms that suggested the possible onset of a heart attack,” the married father of three told CLIFFVIEW PILOT , “so I had to get him out of there right away.”

The nearest stretcher was way up the road — and had a patient on it, anyway.

“I had no equipment and the only thing I could think of was to make a sled and drag him over the ice to the ambulance,” Rothschild said. “I asked people in their cars if anyone had a blanket.

“It was a good quarter to half a mile. But with the help from the bystanders, we made it.”

The man was taken to Holy Name Medical Center, as were the other victims. Due to federal privacy laws, his condition wasn’t immediately known.

( MORE PHOTOS : Teaneck ambulance worker, bystanders rescue heart attack victim in Route 95 pileup )

Two TVAC ambulances and an offsite nurse participated in the rescues and transports.

“When you volunteer to do something like EMS, it is a calling and not a job,” Rothschild told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “It’s all about trying to make the worst day for the people you try to help just a little bit better.

“I don’t know [the heart attack victim’s] status,” he said. “But I like to think with rapid identification that the man was in serious trouble and us getting him out of there, we gave him the best chance possible.”

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