From left, firefighter/paramedic Jacob Busacca, Lt. Ryan Koepp, Firefighter/Paramedic Matt Larivee and Driver Engineer/Paramedic Tom Bench stand behind George and Wendy Agnello.

From left, firefighter/paramedic Jacob Busacca, Lt. Ryan Koepp, Firefighter/Paramedic Matt Larivee and Driver Engineer/Paramedic Tom Bench stand behind George and Wendy Agnello.

Photo provided by St. Clair Shores Fire Department


St. Clair Shores firefighters honored for life-saving efforts

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 3, 2020

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — In late June, George Agnello decided to go for a bike ride with his wife.

But the pair didn’t get to leave on their ride before he passed out.

His wife called 911 for help, and when firefighter/paramedics Jacob Busacca and Matt Larivee arrived, they discovered that George was in critical condition.

“He was unresponsive, pale and not breathing more than one or two breaths a minute,” said St. Clair Shores Fire Lt. Ryan Koepp.

Koepp went on to explain that the paramedics initiated CPR and advanced cardiac life support with assistance from himself and driver engineer/paramedic Tom Bench.

“Matt, Jake and Tom are really competent and skilled medics, and within a few moments the patient began to respond to treatment, which St. John’s Hospital credited for saving his life,” Koepp said in a written statement.

The four members of the St. Clair Shores Fire Department were honored by Ascension St. John Hospital for their lifesaving work during a ceremony Aug. 27, during which they also got to meet the Agnellos.

“I felt like it was a good time to shine some light on some things we do,” said St. Clair Shores Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Kevin Kraus. “It’s not every day that you get not only a save like this, but somebody that walks out of the hospital (and) is able to shake hands with the guys who had a hand in bringing him back.”

Agnello suffered a stroke and cardiac arrest at the same time, Kraus said.

“There (were) a lot of things that happened on that call, and there were a lot of things that had to go right in order for him to be able to pull through,” he said. “The fact that he had two major medical emergencies at once, and he was able to walk out of the hospital, is amazing.”

Koepp said high-pressure situations like the one facing him and the other three members of the department are part of their calling and why they train so hard.

“All of us working that day felt really good about how smooth the incident went, and we feel even better about the outcome. They don’t always turn out that way,” he said.

St. Clair Shores’ support for public safety helped provide the right resources to get help to Agnello quickly, he added.

“With rising call volumes over the last few decades, having available manpower for every call is a growing concern,” he said. “However, on this day, our system worked as it was designed, and there is nothing more satisfying to us than that.

“We are overjoyed to be part of Mr. Agnello’s story, and we are happy he can spend more time with his loved ones.”

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