Jolt of electricity just in time

Lawrence Club starter keeps golfer alive


When Lawrence Yacht & Country Club golf starter Vinnie Biondo got a call from the club’s office last Saturday, alerting him that a member was having a heart attack on the 11th hole, he grabbed an automated external defibrillator and ran to the scene.

Biond first checked to see if the golfer, Ray Ehrlich, an Oceanside resident, had a pulse. “He did, so I didn’t hook him up to the defibrillator,” Biondo recounted. “But when I checked his pulse the second time, he didn’t have one, so I immediately hooked him up the defibrillator.”

Biondo applied the defibrillator pads to Ehrlich’s chest, pushed the “shock” button and delivered what turned out to be a life-saving jolt of electricity. After shocking Ehrlich, he administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Within three or four minutes, Biondo said, the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department and Nassau County police arrived. First Assistant Chief Anthony Rivelli and other LCFD members took Ehrlich to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway.

If Biondo had not reacted as quickly as he did, he said, Ehrlich might not be alive today. “I’m sure by the time the Fire Department got there,” he said, “his chances of survival would have been slim.”

The country club’s general manager, Leo McMahon, said that the club is equipped with four automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, including the one in Biondo’s starter booth. “He did a tremendous job,” McMahon said. “He stayed calm and did a great job.”

Two years ago, Biondo, 58, an Inwood resident, learned how to use a defibrillator and perform CPR. McMahon said that employees are encouraged, though not required, to be trained in the rescue techniques. “The past training was done here at the club by St. John’s Hospital staff,” he said. “Our staff is trained on how to use a defibrillator, CPR and chest compressions.”

In his 37 years at the club, Biondo has seen many members injure themselves on the golf course. “I’ve seen some get hit with golf balls, fallen tree branches … I can’t tell you,” he said. “I’ve even seen a member drive a golf cart into the pond. In my 37 years, I’ve seen a lot.”

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