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EMT suffers aneurysm while helping coworker who suffered stroke

Lt. Raymond Wang, upper left, of the New York City Fire Department, suffered an aortic aneurysm Oct. 17, 2019., as he responded to the scene where fellow EMT Liam Glinane, bottom left, had a stroke while driving an ambulance. Both men survived.

NEW YORK — Lt. Raymond Wang has an amazing survival story.

Wang, an emergency medical technician with the New York City Fire Department, suffered a ruptured aneurysm earlier this month as he and other EMTs raced to help a colleague who’d had a stroke on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Wang, 47, was released Wednesday from Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, where he had been recovering since the Oct. 17 dual medical emergency.

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FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the day of the incident that Liam Glinane, 63, another longtime EMT, was driving an ambulance alone around 1:30 p.m. when he suffered a stroke. The ambulance veered slightly off the road, striking another vehicle in the process.

The crash, which was minor, was not the cause of Glinane's stroke, Nigro said at a news conference.

I'm at NYC Health + Hospitals in Elmhurst with an update on our EMTs’ condition.

Posted by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday, October 17, 2019

When Wang arrived at the scene to treat Glinane, his aortic aneurysm ruptured, and he collapsed, unconscious, Nigro said. Wang was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he received initial treatment.

Wang was then rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, so surgeons there could repair the portion of his aorta damaged by the aneurysm.

"It's a touch-and-go situation," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that evening. "He is fighting for his life."

Glinane also ended up at Mount Sinai for treatment of his stroke. Both men were listed in critical condition.

"We're not believers in coincidences, except for today," Nigro said. "It was an extremely tragic coincidence.

“Thankfully, both of these members were able to be transported and are still alive. It’s somewhat amazing considering the serious nature of both of these conditions.”

Surgeons at Mount Sinai told reporters Wednesday that Wang had a particularly severe rupture, which is fatal for about 20 percent of patients, CBS New York reported.

He was close to death when he arrived at the hospital.

"His lungs and heart were not working, and he had no blood flow to his right leg," Dr. Stephen Waterford said.

Dr. Stephen Waterford and Dr. Percy Boateng, #HeartSurgeons at The Mount Sinai Hospital, share more on Lt. Raymond...

Posted by The Mount Sinai Hospital on Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe an aortic aneurysm as a balloon-like bulge in the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An aneurysm can spontaneously dissect, which causes blood to leak between the layers of the artery wall.

Television actor John Ritter died of an aortic dissection in September 2003 after falling ill on the set of his sitcom.

An aneurysm can also rupture, or burst completely, causing bleeding inside the body, the CDC says. Dissections and ruptures are the cause of most deaths from aortic aneurysms.

Strokes can also be caused by aneurysms, but those occur in the brain.

New York City Fire Department Lt. Raymond Wang is wheeled out of Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. At left, Wang shakes hands with Dr. Percy Boateng, one of the surgeons who saved his life Oct. 17 from a ruptured aneurysm.

Authorities said one bit of luck was on Wang’s side: A doctor from Elmherst Hospital was in the ambulance on a ride-along as Wang arrived at the scene where Glinane had his stroke. The doctor was able to treat both men on the way to the hospital.

"Being in an ambulance and being part of a rescue team himself, I think it helped a lot getting him to the hospital in a timely fashion," Dr. Percy Boateng said, according to the CBS affiliate.

Dozens of firefighters were on hand Wednesday, cheering as Wang was wheeled out of the hospital following his release. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery, the news station said.

Glinane remains hospitalized as he recovers from the stroke. Lilliam Bonsignore, chief of EMS Operations for the Fire Department, wrote in a social media post on Wednesday that Glinane is in stable condition.

"EMT Liam Glinane has shown signs of improvement and his spirits are high," she wrote. "He continues to progress and get better every day."

Bonsignore wrote that the city's paramedics respond to 1.5 million calls per year to save the lives of strangers, bringing with them their “healing hands and high level of pre-hospital care.”

"This time, we got to do that for one of our own. On that crazy day, all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly," Bonsignore wrote. "We had immediate pre-hospital care, and I'd like to thank Elmhurst Hospital, Mount Sinai Queens and the amazing team at Mount Sinai Hospital, who saved Lt. Wang's life."

De Blasio said Wang has 19 years of service with the Fire Department. Glinane has 28 years of service.