What to Know
- Hurricane Ida's remnants ravaged the tri-state area, but even the devastating winds and historic flooding didn't stop a local doctor from his call of duty.
- Dr. Frank Tamburrino was racing to Staten Island University Hospital to treat a 55-year-old retired NYPD officer and former Marine, Angel Rosa in the throes of a heart attack earlier this month when fast-rising waters flooded his car and stalled the engine stopping him on his way to work.
- It was at that moment that his colleague, Dr. Wassim Hoyek, who lived nearby, came to Tamburrino's rescue with his SUV and the two of them made it to the hospital in time to save Rosa's life.
Hurricane Ida's remnants ravaged the tri-state area, but even the devastating winds and historic flooding didn't stop a local doctor from his call of duty.
Dr. Frank Tamburrino was racing to Staten Island University Hospital to treat a 55-year-old retired NYPD officer and former Marine, Angel Rosa in the throes of a heart attack earlier this month when he found himself trapped inside his car in the fast-rising flood water.
"I could not breathe and I told my wife, we gotta call 9-1-1," Rosa said recounting his medical scare.
"We started noticing him getting pale and sweaty, so much sweat, I couldn’t touch him," Rosa's wife, Minerva Rosa, said.
Neither Rosa or his wife were thinking about the torrential rain -- remnants of Hurricane Ida -- that was hitting that day.
“Never in my life have I experienced a downpour like this - so fast,” Tamburrino said. “Once the rain started, within a few minutes my car was submerged. Thankfully the patient was stable and in good hands, but we needed to get there and treat him as soon as possible.”
Tamburrino told News 4 New York that the only thing on his mind was getting to his patient as quickly as possible.
It was at that moment that his colleague, Dr. Wassim Hoyek, who lived nearby, came to Tamburrino's rescue.
Driving his SUV, Hoyek made his way to Tamburrino and the two eventually navigated the flooded streets of Staten Island, crossing over traffic islands, medians and other obstacles to get to the hospital.
Once at the hospital, Tamburino quickly changed out of his knee-high-soaked scrubs and went into surgery.
"Running up, soaking wet -- I was wet all the way up to my waist… and as I came out of the elevator I saw your wife and first thing she says to me, 'Doctor are you okay?' I said, 'I’m fine, I’m gonna go take care of your husband,'" Tamburrino said.
Rosa's operation ended up being a success and he went home a few days later to his family, including his five-year-old granddaughter, Yael.
"I was so happy that you made it, that you made it safe… you were wet, but other than that you seemed fine and ready to go," Minerva said.
Following the adrenaline-filled day, Tamburrino said that a lesson was learned when it comes to weather advisories.
"You get a flood warning and you go, 'oh it’s raining,' but no: a flood warning is a flood warning. I think we all learned a valuable lesson… especially on Staten Island," Tamburrino said.
He added that the hospital’s security protocols, teamwork, and a relay system in place for the doctor to arrive on-site helped him perform his job -- but he also says this was nothing short of a miracle.