FDNY members reunite with survivors of cardiac arrest at 'Second Chances' ceremony

RANDALL'S ISLAND (WABC) -- There was a special reunion between first responders who saved the lives of other first responders.

The sense of gratitude in the room could not possibly have been more genuine.

"I have so much to look forward to and so much to be thankful for," said Felix Mullen, retired FDNY.

"It's beyond words really without a doubt, the feeling that you have that you were saved by your brothers," said Kenny Ruane, retired FDNY.

Wednesday, the FDNY held its 22nd Annual Second Chances Ceremony on Randall's Island, giving survivors of cardiac arrest a chance to reunite with the first responders who helped bring them back to life.

13 survivors took part, including two retired firefighters, saved by their former fraternity.

"Our adrenaline was pumping even more to help a brother. You know, we're going to do everything we can to help him. He's our family," said Erwin Arredondo, EMT.

"I want to hug them, because that's what comes over me, just give them a big bear hug and say thanks. It's all I can do at this stage in my life, and buy them some meals," Ruane said.

"It was the first time to be on the opposite side of the giving and the taking, and I was just lucky enough that these wonderful guys were there," Mullen said.

"It feels good. It's definitely rewarding to save somebody, give them a second chance, live the rest of his life with his family," said Stephanie McCaffrey, EMT.

Over the years, this scene has played out more than 200 times of survivors and first responders reunited.

Wednesday's lucky 13 included a science teacher from the Bronx and a carpenter working on a construction site in Manhattan when a near tragedy almost struck.

All throughout the room, the thin line between life and death has formed a lifelong bond.

"Our guests come from different backgrounds and every borough in our city, but they all have one thing in common: at their darkest moment, FDNY members responded and saved their lives," said Robert Turner, FDNY Deputy Commissioner.
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