Quick action by EMTs save Riverhead teacher’s life at ‘Crazy Sports Night’ event

by Denise Civiletti

Quick action by EMTs saved the life of a Riverhead teacher who collapsed in cardiac arrest after a hard-fought game of tug-of-war at “Crazy Sports Night” tonight at Riverhead High School.
Phillips Avenue Elementary School teacher Lonnie Hughes went into cardiac arrest on the high school gymnasium floor at the conclusion of a tug-of-war contest pitting Phillips Avenue against Aquebogue Elementary School. Hughes was the anchor man for the Phillips team, which was defeated in the match. Immediately after it ended, Hughes fell onto his back, appearing to have lost consciousness.
Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps head ALS provider Jennifer Kelly, who was in the audience to cheer on her nephews’ school, and Riverhead High School physics teacher Gregory Wallace, an EMT with the East Marion Fire Department, rushed to the fallen teacher’s aid, Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps Chief Joseph Oliver said tonight.
RVAC member Susan Shleef maintained the patient’s airway and breathed for him, Oliver said.
Kelly and Wallace used a defibrillator to shock the patient’s heart to establish a heartbeat, Oliver said.
Other teachers participating in the sports night event formed a human wall around Hughes as EMTs worked to resuscitate him, to protect him from view of the gymnasium packed to capacity with children and their families.
School officials immediately evacuated the gym, which was emptied without incident within minutes of the teacher’s collapse, as a Riverhead ambulance crew rushed to him with a stretcher.
Hughes began breathing on his own in the ambulance on the way to Peconic Bay Medical Center, Oliver said. By the time the teacher was in the emergency room, he was talking and laughing with the EMTs who brought him there, the RVAC chief said.
Hughes, 57, was transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital for further observation and testing, Oliver said.
“The outcome of having our ambulance there was the reason Lonnie is alive right now,” Oliver said.
 Hughes’ family wants the community to know the teacher is alive and well, and asked the ambulance corps chief to make a statement about tonight’s events, he said.
RVAC personnel who responded to the emergency at the high school gym tonight were: Chris Mazzucca, Sameer Anandm Heather Zilnicki, Laura Donahue, Joseph Sokolski, Christopher Flemming, Andrej Ceckowski Sandra Ruttkaova and Martin McKenna, according to the RVAC chief