Manhasset resident Rick Spellman, a former Jones Beach lifeguard, was recently recognized by the Town Of North Hempstead for his helping to save the life of a heart-attack victim halfway through a round of golf at Eisenhower Park.
The town paid tribute to Spellman at a Dec. 5 reception.
“Often, the word hero is lightly used,” Town Supervisor Kaiman said, in a statement. “But Rick truly did something heroic – he helped save a life. We thank you for this valiant act.”
Spellman, a sales representative, said he was playing the eighth hole of the Blue Course of the East Meadow links with his father Fred, when he happened upon Margaret Savarese laying unresponsive on the ground. Her golf partners Joan Aspromante and Loretta Limanni were panicked and horrified. Instinctively drawing on his lifeguard training, he jumped in and immediately began pumping Savarese’s chest and alternately breathing into her mouth.
“There wasn’t much of a pulse or breath,” said Spellman, a lifeguard for more than a dozen years at Field 4 Central Mall at Jones Beach. “I guess CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] remained ingrained in my brain all this time.”
A regular at the course with her two friends, Savarese, a retired accounts representative and Massapequa resident, said she has no memory of the moments after she stepped onto the eighth tee Saturday, Sept. 10, until six days later at Nassau County Medical Center in East Meadow.
“They said I went to tee off and just crumpled to the ground,” Savareese said, referring to her friends that were with her at the time.
Limanni, also a Massapequa resident, believed for a fleeting moment that Savarese was pulling some weird prank when she fell.
“I thought she was kidding,” Limanni said. “But when I saw her face – I knew it was serious.”
Spellman said this was his first time performing CPR on a real person. His father helped out compressing Savarese’s chest as they frantically tried to revive her during what “seemed like ages” before the Emergency Medical Technicians arrived, he said.
“He wouldn’t give up,” Aspromante said. “We thank God for him.”
Spellman, who waited anxiously to hear how Savarese was doing, said that “it felt fantastic” when he heard that Savarese was alive and well. “It’s one of the best feelings of my life.”
Town Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio said that “recognizing extraordinary people who accomplish great feats” was one of the most important roles afforded her by her office.
“You did a wonderful thing,” she told Spellman. “You truly made a difference.”
Scarves for Veterans
Some veterans residing in North Hempstead are feeling a littile warmer this winter, thanks to the town's “Wrap Our Veterans in Love” campaign.
Veteran’s Club Coordinator Mel Sacks, North Hempstead Town Clerk Leslie Gross, Great Neck Senior Center President Phoebe Lazarus, Senior Center Executive Director Ann Tarcher, and Helen Donenfeld recently participated in the campaign.
In this program, members of the Great Neck Senior Center Knitting Group presented scarves they made to local veterans.
“’Wrap Our Veterans in Love’ is a way of saying thank you to our Veterans – a chance to give back to those men and women who, over the years, put their lives on the line for us,” said Gross, who launched the program.
The scarves were knitted with red yarn to represent the heart. Gross said she hopes to continue the tradition for many years in the future.