Suburban Hero: Buffalo Grove inspector taps paramedic skills to help save asthmatic teen

  • Buffalo Grove building inspector Joe Arizzi, right, hands a Cubs hoodie to 15-year-old Ari Melnick last week during a village ceremony honoring Arizzi's work to help the Stevenson High student through an asthma attack in February. Buffalo Grove Fire Chief Mike Baker, right, and Deputy Police Chief Scott Eisenmenger applaud in the background.

      Buffalo Grove building inspector Joe Arizzi, right, hands a Cubs hoodie to 15-year-old Ari Melnick last week during a village ceremony honoring Arizzi's work to help the Stevenson High student through an asthma attack in February. Buffalo Grove Fire Chief Mike Baker, right, and Deputy Police Chief Scott Eisenmenger applaud in the background. Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer

 

For Joe Arizzi, property maintenance inspector for the village of Buffalo Grove, Feb. 12 began with a relatively routine rental inspection.

It ended with him reaching back to his roots as a firefighter/paramedic to help save the life of a 15-year-old boy suffering an asthma attack.

Arizzi, who served 35 years with the Wauconda Fire Department, arrived at a home that morning to find Ari Melnick, a Stevenson High School student, in the throes of an asthmatic episode and his mother, Heather, dialing 911 for help.

"(Heather) just came up and said, 'Oh, by the way, just so you know, I'm calling 911,'" Arizzi said. "I said, 'For what?' So I dropped what I was doing and came in. Ari was obviously in respiratory distress. He was breathing real rapidly."

"That kind of just slid me into my previous life," he added.

Arizzi checked Ari's vitals and worked to keep him calm through the episode as they waited for EMTs to arrive.

"He really did a great job. It took him a little bit, but he started breathing normal," Arizzi said of Ari. "He was hyperventilating, so I slowed down his respiration. His pulse slowed down dramatically."

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Ari said he remembered being scared, but Arizzi's work to calm him down was a big help.

It also played a big part in Ari getting through the attack, according to Buffalo Grove police and fire officials who honored Arizzi's efforts at last week's village board meeting.

"It truly takes a team to provide those interventions needed for a successful patient outcome," Fire Chief Mike Baker said while reading a commendation letter he and Police Chief Steve Casstevens signed. "You were an integral part of the initial recognition and treatment of the patient."

Baker said he knows from his 30 years of experience as a paramedic how important it is to keep a patient calm during that kind of episode.

"It truly does make a difference -- especially on asthmatic patients -- where if you can keep them calm enough until paramedics can get there, it truly does make a difference in their outcome," he said.

• Do you know any Suburban Heroes? Share your story at heroes@dailyherald.com.

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