1st Precinct Officers Honored for Role In Bringing Tribeca Man Back to Life

At last month's First Precinct Community Council meeting, Officer Patrick Venetek, with patrol partner Monika Washack, tells the story of reviving a heart attack victim. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jul. 22, 2017

“For the fast, heroic action of these two police officers, where every second counts...”

With those words, Capt. Richard Taylor, the 1st Precinct’s executive officer, named Police Officers Patrick Venetek and Monika Washack Cops of the Month.

That recognition, at last month’s First Precinct Community Council meeting, was bestowed on the officers for more than saving a life—but for bringing back the life of a 73-year-old Tribeca man who had suffered a heart attack and was clinically dead when the officers arrived at his building.

Following are first-person accounts of that harrowing story by Officer Venetek, who spoke at the meeting, and by the wife of the recovering victim and mother of their 12-year-old son. She spoke later in an interview with the Trib. (The wife asked that her family not be identified. Catherine, the name given here, is not her real name.) Venetek is an Army veteran who has received extensive emergency medical technician training. He and Officer Washack are 11-year veterans of the force.

POLICE OFFICER VENETEK The 911 call came from a child. Ninety percent of the time it’s a child misdialing. We were right around the corner. We saw a couple of frantic people come out of the building and we realized this was more serious than a child calling.

CATHERINE It was Mother’s Day and my husband was letting me sleep in. He went out to take the dog for a walk and get me some flowers. Our elevator was broken so he took the stairs. Our son found him [face down in a pool of blood] and came up and got me and I instructed him to call 911, and he promptly did. Then I threw my robe on and ran downstairs. I had pulled his head into my lap because I didn’t want him laying in the blood, but I couldn’t turn him over. He was just too heavy. He had a big gash in his forehead from the fall and was bleeding so heavily because he was on high doses of blood thinner.

VENETEK When we got in there his wife was next to him and we called for additional resources. We tried to get a rush on the ambulance to come faster. We asked them for a defibrillator; we didn’t have one in our car at the time. Then I started assessing to see how bad it was. He was non-responsive, and he had no pulse. So we started CPR.

CATHERINE Officer Venetek just immediately went to work, and with a sense of determination and calm and confidence like he knew exactly what had to be done. He got him onto his back and started CPR and he looked me right in the eye and said, I’m doing 15 and you’re doing two. He pointed at me. I looked at him. I’ve had CPR training but I never had to do it. He made me feel like I absolutely could. I was doing the breaths and he was doing the chest compressions. He instructed me to slow down. It started working. My husband started responding. The second round of breaths something started to happen.

VENETEK The Fire Department’s ambulance was coming right behind. When they arrived we moved him out of the staircase and into the lobby where we had more room to work on him and we were able to shock him a couple of times with the defibrillator. His heart started back up.

CATHERINE He just kept going, even after EMS got there. He just kept doing the compressions. All the way until they managed to get him into the lobby. I know it was exhausting. I don’t know how he did it. Officer Venetek just kept going. I knew he needed backup on it. But he was so determined. Then EMS took over and continued to revive him in the lobby and then got him in an ambulance.

Officer Washack was an incredibly calm and solid presence, helping to direct the EMS guys in all of that chaos, making sure they could get into the stairwell. She was also very kind and I remember her clearing out the back of her their patrol car so my son and I could get in there as quickly as possible.

VENETEK He was stable enough from the head trauma to transport to Bellevue, but en route he went south again and they had to redirect him to [New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital].

CATHERINE In the hospital somebody gave me something to wear because I was covered in blood. The officers stayed around until it settled down. Officer Venetek did a lot of reassuring of our son who was very upset, and he was able to calm him in a way that I couldn’t. He reminded him that he did absolutely the right thing by calling 911 and made sure he connected with him personally. So it was a real combination of professionalism, having to do a difficult job with complete confidence and toughness but then opening his heart, too. They exemplify the kind of cops who we all want to have our backs.

When my son and I took his thank you note to the officers at the 1st Precinct, we walked in and Officer Washack was at the front desk. I looked at her and she looked at me. I didn’t know if she’d remember me, but she smiled, stood up and came out. We exchanged a big embrace and she said, “Would you like to see Officer Venetek?” I was crying at this point and I said, “Yes.” It was a very emotional reunion.

I just wanted to let them know how grateful we were and that we had not forgotten what they did. That we never would. Never.

Catherine’s husband left the hospital after 47 days and he continues to recuperate at home. “My husband is looking forward to meeting the officers and thanking them in person,” she said.