Having the right people there at the right time turned what could have been the worst day for a New Jersey man into a fortunate situation. Robert “Bob” Beggs, a 78-year-old Riverdale New Jersey resident, was playing a round of golf at Putnam County Golf Course in Mahopac on Tuesday, July 14 when he went into cardiac arrest at the 16th hole.
Daniel Cocozza of Danbury, Conn., who was part of Beggs’ foursome, immediately started to administer CPR to his friend.
“I didn’t suspect anything was wrong with Bob earlier,” said Cocozza, who coached baseball in the past and was trained in CPR. “He seemed fine and then he just wasn’t.”
James Gilchrist Jr., a staff member of the golf course saw what was happening and went to the club. He notified David Solomon, assistant Golf Operations manager at the golf course, and also called 9-1-1. Solomon assessed the situation and had Mike McCall, general manager of golf course, bring out the AED out from the clubhouse.
Solomon, who is a retired physical education teacher from the Bronx, then took over for Cocozza, applying the AED and administering one shock per the device’s direction.
“When I got out there, he was blue and had no pulse,” said Solomon. “After I used the AED on him, he started breathing on his own. Then after about 30 seconds he stopped.”
Solomon then continued with CPR. Michael Lopez, who had just walked to the driving range to hit some golf balls, was summoned over to the area and volunteered to administer supplementary breathing.
“We had to give him a second shock from the AED and then he started breathing on his own again,” said Solomon.
Within seven to eight minutes of the 9-1-1 call, the Mahopac Falls Volunteer Fire Department and a Transcare Ambulance were on the scene. Paramedic Tracy Lombardo took command.
“She was spectacular,” said Solomon. “She came right in and took over the situation. We were relieved and she worked with the EMS workers to get Mr. Beggs into the ambulance and to the hospital.”
Since Beggs had an irregular pulse when the first responders arrived, Lombardo administered antiarrhythmic drugs to him to stabilize his heartbeat. She then traveled with Beggs to the Putnam Hospital Center in the Mahopac Falls ambulance.
Lombardo, a seasoned paramedic with over 26 years of training under her belt and seven years at TransCare, credits the staff at Putnam County Golf Course with saving Beggs life. “Those people on the golf course saved that man,” said Lombardo. “There were right where they needed to be. It was like the planets aligned and the angels sang.”
Frank Tomasulo of Somers, who was also a member of Beggs’ foursome, commended the golf course staff also. “Kudos to the general manager and the staff.” said Tomasulo, whose foursome has a regular tee time at the golf course every Tuesday morning. “They were amazing. They came out and did what they needed to do without a gap in anything happening. Without them we would not have had a happy ending.”
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell recognized the heroic efforts of Cocozza and the golf course staff on Friday, July 17.
“You never know when something like this is going to happen and it is like Mr. Beggs bought the winning lottery ticket,” said Odell. “The right people were here at the right time to save his life. I am so proud of Mike McCall, Dave Solomon and Jimmy Gilchrist Jr. and the rest of the staff at Putnam Golf Course.”
Putnam County Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services Anthony Sutton isn’t crediting luck with the successful situation.
“The way it went down is the way it is supposed to,” said Sutton. “This was the perfect example of the chain of survival.”
In the chain of survival, somebody witnesses someone in cardiac arrest. The person then begins CPR without delay. Someone else calls 9-1-1 to activate the dispatch system. Another person retrieves the AED. They come back and apply the AED. Then the ambulance and paramedics arrive on the scene.
Odell is working with Sutton and McCall to ensure that the golf course is ready for any future medical incidents.
“This instance certainly gave us a heads up. Now that the golf course is getting more populated, we have to look at what we are doing here with our new commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services to make sure that we are able to help someone in distress no matter where they are on the course,” said Odell. “We already have on AED located on the premise, but we are looking to add two more. We want to have one upstairs by the catering hall, another downstairs in the clubhouse and a third one that will be located in the halfway house on the far end of the course.”
Beggs has recovered and is relaxing at his home in New Jersey.
Photo caption: County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Commissioner Anthony Sutton met with the staff of the Putnam County Golf Course and the friends of Robert Beggs to thank them for their valiant actions that helped save Robert Begg’s life. Pictured left to right: General Manager Mike McCall, Operations Manager Jim Woods, James Gilchrist Jr., Assistant Operations Manager David Solomon, Greg Gutter of Carmel, Daniel Cocozza od Danbury, Conn., Frank Tomasulo of Somers, County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Commissioner Anthony Sutton.