Verona First Responders Save Life At UNICO 5K


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Runners rounding the corner at Lakeside were unaware of the drama unfolding in the park.
Among the 482 runners who competed in the UNICO Labor Day Classic is one who will likely never forget the 5K: He was brought back to life by Verona’s first responders.

At about 10:15 a.m., Verona Fire Department Lieutenant Harvey Goodman heard someone in the crowd call out that someone had fallen near the finish line to his left. He moved in that direction and found a male runner face down on the ground. Goodman radioed for help from the VFD and the Verona Rescue Squad, which both had members near the finish line. Sue DeWitt and Sandy Bowman responded from the VRS and Ed Van Wagner from the VFD.

They were definitely the right people in the right place. Van Wagner is a paramedic and DeWitt is an EMT. Goodman and Van Wagner checked the man’s vital signs, and determined that he did not have a pulse and was not breathing. They rolled the man onto his back, lifted up his shirt and Van Wagner began CPR. DeWitt focused on preparing the automatic external defibrillator (AED) shock device kept in the VRS’ so-called jump bag.

“Ed stopped CPR and with the AED fully charged and placed onto the patient already, the AED was activated,” says Goodman. “The patient responded with breathing and a pulse so continuing CPR was not necessary. He regained consciousness but was unaware that he had fallen and his heart had stopped.”

Verona’s first responders let the man, who was believed to be in his late 60s, know that he would be going to the hospital. Paramedics had been called to the scene as well as additional VRS members, and the VFD members who were present assisted in controlling the area around the patient and provided support for the VRS.

Goodman says the teamwork among Verona’s first responders on Monday was nothing new. “Such cooperation and involvement is common between the VRS and the VFD,” he says. “Both departments offer assistance to each other when needed without hesitation.”

But Bruce Snogans, chairman of the Verona UNICO Labor Day Race, is very grateful for the skills these squads showed. “The Verona Chapter of UNICO,” he says, “would like to publicly acknowledge and thank the Verona Rescue Squad, Police and Fire Department for quickly and successfully responding to the fallen runner at the Labor Day race.”

The 2017 Labor Day Classic was won by Karl O’Reilly of Morristown in a time of 16:38.31. The top woman’s finisher was Nicole Falcaro of New York City at 18:57.75. The top Verona finishers were Michael Anello (17:50.44), Matthew Carroll (17:58.42), Jacqueline Murphy (22:59.38) and Rebecca McClain (23:08.14).

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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