Life-Saving Clark EMS Squad Receives Red Cross Heroes Honor

When seconds mattered and a life depended on cool heads and capable hands, five members of the Clark Emergency Medical Services (EMS), a student emergency response team at Clark University, met a rare challenge and saved a life.

The Clark EMS squad members were honored as American Red Cross Heroes, at the eighth annual American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts “Breakfast of Champions” on March 25. They are: Alex Andersen ’10, Marc Benoit ’12, Nicholas Foresti ’10, Nicholas Gregory-Bernstein ’10, and Jason Smith ’11. Maureen Mercier ’10 and Rebecca Southwick ’10 were also at the ceremony to represent the group. (Article continues below.)

Octogenarian Arnold Yodice suffered cardiac arrest while heading to a film screening at Clark last September. The EMS squad applied a combination of CPR and automated external defibrillator (ZOLL AED Plus™) to revive him. City of Worcester EMS/Fire soon arrived on the scene, assisting the Clark EMTs and ultimately transporting Mr. Yodice to the hospital.

In a phone interview, Mr. Yodice told a newspaper reporter, “I was dead for a minute and all of a sudden, bam, boom, I was back. They were smart kids, very smart kids.”

Now recovered and living out of state, Mr. Yodice was not able to attend the ceremony. But his children, George Yodice and Patricia Peters, were on hand to warmly thank the students they credited with saving the life of their father, who just celebrated his 83rd birthday.

According to the Red Cross, the breakfast is the chapter’s signature annual event and was conceived in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack, “as a way to honor the heroes of September 11, 2001 and to celebrate the spirit of humanitarianism by recognizing local individuals who have shown courage, kindness and unselfish character through their acts of heroism.”

“Nick, Alex, Nick, Jason, and Marc are heroes not only to Mr. Yodice and his family, but to everyone at Clark University who feels a sense of security knowing this volunteer, highly skilled team is on campus, ready and willing to help in life-saving situations,” said TV-radio talk show host and event emcee Hank Stolz.

EMT Benoit’s proximity to the scene helped save Mr. Yodice’s life, said Smith, adding that Benoit was assisting the patient only 26 seconds after the call came in. Smith also credited Clark University Police dispatcher Jacqueline Coles for preparing the EMTs for what to expect at the scene. “She’s an incredible dispatcher. She was able to convey the gravity of the situation to us.”

“I cannot commend the squad members who responded enough,” Gregory-Bernstein said. “The scene outside Atwood Hall was surprisingly calm; everyone had a job to do, and they did it. Training played a crucial role; nervousness or uncertainty were not options.”

Gregory-Bernstein noted that it wasn’t until Mr. Yodice was transported from the scene that what had happened began to sink in. “This was my first real close encounter with death.”

Clark University Police Chief Stephen Goulet expressed his pride in the squad and congratulated the EMTs on performing “the ultimate action of an EMS squad member” – bringing a patient back to life.

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