Fordham Athletes Encounter Medical Emergency, Assist EMS



Fordham University runners assist FDNY EMT responders with rescuing a man in a Bronx park.


On Saturday, Mar. 9, three Fordham students’ morning run was interrupted when they encountered a man suffering a medical emergency on a trail in Van Cortlandt Park.

According to Brian Cook, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill ’18 and current graduate student at Fordham, the students were on a routine training run when they came across another runner in the park assisting a man lying in the snow. The other runner asked Cook, along with Nicholas Raefski and Patrick Donahue, both Fordham College Rose Hill ’20, if they had a phone to call an ambulance.

The runners did not have a phone, so they attempted to assist on scene.

“We tried to help the elderly man up at first and we realized that he had been hurt,” Cook said. “His hands were a little bloody and his clothes were soaked from him being on the ground in the snow.”

Cook explained that the man was hesitant to accept their help and kept asking for directions out of the park. “After about a minute we realized that he would need help from EMS,” Cook said.

The Fordham athletes left the other runner with the man and took back to the trail to find someone who could call for help. “I felt a sense of urgency,” said Cook. “I was running a bunch of scenarios in my head about where we would have to go if we couldn’t find someone walking with a phone.”

As the students rounded the hills on the trail, they found an ambulance parked near the corner of Broadway and Moshulu Ave. “I thought maybe someone else had called but the sirens were not on,” said Cook.

He ran up to the ambulance and informed the driver of the situation. The trail was too narrow for the ambulance, so they made a plan to enter the park on foot with the runners leading the way.

While the EMS workers called for backup and gathered supplies, Donahue ran back to the scene to inform the two men still on the trail that help was on the way.

Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill ’18 graduate Brian Cook, while on a run with ’20 Rose Hill undergrads Nicholas Raefski and Patrick Donahue, came across another runner helping a man suffering from a medical emergency in a Van Cortland Park trail on Saturday morning.

Leading the EMS workers through the woods, they were able to find the man in need of assistance. The four runners allowed EMS to take over from there.

“They said that the main priority was getting him out of the environment,” Cook stated. “They cut off some of the man’s clothes because they were soaked and it was about 30 degrees out. They wrapped him in a thermal blanket.”

EMS asked for assistance in loading the man onto a sled and dragging him out of the woods. Rafinski grabbed the supplies while Cook and Donahue assisted in pulling the man back to the street. Upon exiting the park, EMS and the runners worked together to load the man into the ambulance.

According to the New York Post, the man was admitted to Montefiore Medical Center in stable condition.

Cook noted that the way the situation developed was very fortunate. From the students’ decision to take that particular trail to the location of the ambulance parked on the street, it appeared to him as though most of the event occurred by chance. All three students have been particularly humbled in the aftermath of the event.

“I think that the EMTs deserve all the credit in the world. They do things like this and worse every single day,” said Cook.

It was evident that the students assisted because they simply felt like it was the right thing to do. “I think that my role on Fordham’s campus is pretty similar to most of the students. I am here for an education just like everyone else,” he stated. “I am representing my coaches and teammates with things I do, so I try to keep that in mind.”