Rochester chief saved through program he implemented

Sep 29, 2022

ROCHESTER – When people call 911 in an emergency, they often have to rely on heroic strangers to come to their aid.

But when Rochester Fire Chief Scott Weigel suffered a severe cardiac incident in his home, he didn’t call on strangers. He called on his friends, family and coworkers, people he had personally trained to deal with situations like the one he was in.

At 7 a.m. on Aug. 14, Weigel’s wife, Susan, recognized the signs of cardiac arrest and called 911, bringing first responders to his aid.

Due to the hard work and dedication of Weigel’s team and other first responders in the area, Weigel was able to be present with his family at an awards ceremony at Rochester Memorial School on Wednesday, Sept. 28 to recognize those who saved his life.

This was in part due to the Rochester Fire Department’s advanced life support system, a program that Weigel himself implemented nine years ago to deal with these situations. The program included upgrading equipment and hiring and training local EMTs and paramedics who can carry out the mission of providing the highest level of care and advanced life support possible.

“He reaped the greatest benefits of its implementation,” said Captain Kevin Richard.

Weigel was choked up when thanking the team at the Rochester Fire Department. “It doesn't surprise me about the effort that you took to keep me alive, because I've witnessed the same level of difficulty and commitment [in Rochester],” he said.

He also thanked the families of those who serve the town. “Be proud of them, because they work hard. And the work they do is very important,” Weigel added.

“As public servants and first responders throughout our careers, we expect to be put in situations where we're going to need to act. We're trained for these situations, we plan, we prepare. Our goal is that every day, every encounter, every situation and every call will make a difference,” said Richard.

Awarded for their efforts on the scene were Rochester’s Deputy Chief Albert Weigel, Sergeant Alyson Rego and Captain Jeffrey Weigel and patrolman Emmanuel Matias, as well as firefighters Michael Mentzer, Harrison Harding, and Andrew Weigel, who is Chief Weigel’s son. Paramedic Jessica Desroches and Lindsay Harding, RN, were also present and awarded for their life-saving efforts.

Due to the particular intensity and highly emotional situation that Rochester’s first responders were put in, Richard said that Freetown’s Deputy Chief Harrie Ashley and Captain Neal LaFleur also responded to the situation as soon as they could arrive, and were given awards for their hard work.

Also awarded were dispatchers Tyler Reardon and Joseph Farmer, as well as Susan Weigel, who gave CPR at the dispatcher’s over-the-phone instructions.

Firefighter and EMT Tracy Eldridge and paramedic Benjamin Garlington were awarded for their response following Weigel’s transport to Tobey Hospital.

Also honored that night were firefighters who had dedicated their lives to many years of service, from 20 years all the way to more than 50 years. Officers also were awarded for promotions, including Lieutenant Michael Amato, Lieutenant Steven Grenier, Lieutenant Daniel Ferreira, Lieutenant Andy Weigel, Lieutenant Robert Lafferiere, Captain Walter Gonet, Captain Kevin Richard, and Deputy Jeffrey Eldridge.

There was an additional civilian award given to Bradley Barrows, who pulled over to help when another resident suffered a cardiac incident in his car, and delivered life-saving CPR.

“The future is bright, and I look forward to what the future holds,” said Weigel, closing the ceremony.