By Julia Beauregard
Hometown Weekly Editor
On Sunday evening, two local off-duty firefighters were credited with saving the life of a football fan who had suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed at Gillette Stadium before the Patriots-Dolphins game. According to Boston.com, Mark McCullough from the Needham Fire Department and Anthony Colella from the Johnston, Rhode Island Fire Department were the heroes of the moment. McCullough, who attended the game with friends, including Needham’s former Fire Chief Dennis Condon, as reported by MassLive, and Colella, who was with his girlfriend, witnessed law enforcement officers descending the staircase leading to the G-P Atrium area beneath the lighthouse at Gillette Stadium. They promptly followed suit, springing into action to assist the distressed fan. The incident occurred fifteen minutes before kickoff.
Initially, the two firefighters suspected the fan was experiencing breathing difficulties due to food obstruction in his throat. However, according to WJAR, it was later revealed that the fan had suffered a cardiac arrest. Nonetheless, the two off-duty firefighters successfully resuscitated him and performed CPR for ten minutes until the man regained consciousness. They discovered that the fan had vomit in his airway, which they promptly cleared.
Additionally, the two firefighters found that the fan had fallen, striking the back of his head and causing bleeding. Colella and McCullough stayed with him until emergency services arrived. It was reported that the saved individual was communicative before being transported to a local hospital, although his current medical status remained uncertain at the time.
McCullough, displaying modesty, stated, "That's what we do for a living. Even if we're not working, we're still out there doing what we have to do," according to Boston.com.
Bridget Condon, an NFL Network on-air host and reporter, witnessed the entire incident and shared her account of it on X (formerly known as Twitter). She stated, "My parents are at the Patriots game with their friends and someone in their section just had a heart attack and my dad's friend (also a firefighter) started giving him CPR and saved his life. Forget the football. This is the best thing I've heard all day." She also posted a photo of the two local heroes on her page.
On Monday morning, the Needham firefighters union posted a message on their Facebook page, commending McCullough and Colella for their heroic off-duty rescue. They praised the firefighters, saying, "Great job Needham Fire Department’s own Firefighter Mark McCullough and Anthony Colella of the Johnston, RI Fire Department. Mark and Anthony spotted a fan who had become unresponsive at the game. Firefighters rapidly began CPR after checking the fan’s airway and pulse. The fan regained consciousness, and Mark and Anthony stayed by their side until EMS arrived on the scene."