MAYOR DE BLASIO HONORS POLICE OFFICERS MICHAEL KONATSOTIS AND DAVID ROUSSINE
Mayor de Blasio honors Konatsotis
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, we have a really wonderful line-up of folks here today. And this is a joyous moment for our city when we get to celebrate people who work for the city of New York, who serve the city of New York, and do something as extraordinary as these two gentlemen did. First I want to acknowledge our great Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. I want to acknowledge Chief James Secreto of Manhattan North, Commanding Officer of Patrol in Manhattan North, and Deputy Inspector Ruel Stephenson, the Commanding Officer for the 3-0 Precinct, from which these fine gentlemen hail. I also want to acknowledge and welcome Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. A good friend, but also someone who is happy to participate whenever New York’s finest are being celebrated, because for 22 years, he was a member of New York’s finest. So we welcome your involvement today. You’re going to hear the story again in a moment of Officer Michael – I’m going to say it right – Konatsotis.
Officer Michael Konatsotis: Perfect.
Mayor: And Officer – even if it wasn’t right – Officer David Roussine. This is an amazing story, and something – I met with the two officers before we came out, and I said from my heart, there’s very few of us who are able to say we saved a life with certainty. We saved an individual’s life, and know for the rest of our days, that that was something we did here on this earth. And these two gentlemen did that, and they did it under extraordinary circumstances. When you could have not blamed them if they’d said it was too late, but they just didn’t believe it was too late. They believed that they were here to save that baby’s life, and they did it. And it’s really an honor to be here with them, I’m just going to make a couple of comments before we hear from the Commissioner and we hear from these two heroes. After we talk about this extraordinary moment, we’ll be happy to take any questions you have for the officers or for any of us. Then we’ll continue on with the other subject today, which is our after school report.
But these two gentlemen are the epitome of what public servants are meant to be. They saved this life, they showed courage, they showed creativity, they showed willingness to keep fighting. It’s an extraordinary story and remember, this is the reality of the NYPD. You could be going about your day, it could seem to be a routine day and then suddenly everything could change. And what we ask of our men and women of the NYPD is to be able to deal with that moment of crisis. With no preparation at that time, no warning, just to deal with it with everything they’ve got from their training, from their instincts, from their talent, and that’s what happened here. And they saved a life because they had that level of training and commitment. These officers showed their skill, showed their ability, showed the speed of their response.
You know, they’re an interesting partnership here. I’m not going to say the odd couple. You’ve got two guys: one, a sixteen-year veteran of the NYPD, the other, just been on the force about a year and a half. They just recently became partners. And they weren’t even in their regular precinct. They weren’t in the 3-0, they were assigned over to the 1-9 just for this day. They were on streets that they weren’t so familiar with on the Upper East Side. When they got that dispatch call, it didn’t matter if they came from different time frames – in terms of their time of service – it didn’t matter that they were fairly new partners, it didn’t matter that they were in a precinct they weren’t used to. They answered that call urgently and immediately. They went to an apartment building on East 74 Street, and what they found was two frantic parents and a baby who was unconscious. And only – they knew immediately – only seconds to save that baby. What they did, in my view, was brilliant. They managed to get to the site quickly and safely. They managed to take this infant, Norah Schechter, 15-months-old, from the arms of her father Jason, immediately started reviving the baby while driving at high speed to the hospital. They brought the parents along with them. They did everything right, under a duress that the rest of us can only imagine.
It helps that Officer Konatsotis has a background as an EMT, and he certainly used that background to full effect. But it’s also important for us to point out that all NYPD officers are trained in CPR, because it’s just for these kinds of occasions – when they’re the difference between life and death – that training is so important. It took them about 70 seconds, I’m told, to get from the point from where they took the baby to the hospital. So speed mattered so much. And they had revived the baby, and turned the baby over to the emergency department in the hospital, and from there the hospital was able to take over, and continue to stabilize the baby. And it’s extraordinary to say that this baby is now home safe with her parents, when she was just seconds away from losing her life – but for the heroic efforts of these officers.
So I’ll say to Officer Konatsotis and Officer Roussine, on behalf of the people of New York City, we just can’t thank you enough. There are no words to express the appreciation and the honor we feel for you for what you’ve done. You have shown once again why the NYPD is called New York’s finest. You’ve acted in a manner of the highest principles of public service, and you’ve literally saved a life. I’d like to have Commissioner Bratton come forward and say a few words. And then we’d like to present you with some citations, and then have a chance for you to tell the people of New York City a little more about yourselves and what you did in this extraordinary moment. Commissioner Bratton.
Commissioner Bill Bratton, Police: Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for the acknowledgement of the work that you’ve just described on behalf of these two officers. This is the third time now in the last week – the last brief week – that I’ve had the opportunity to acknowledge the work – often dangerous work – of members of the NYPD. Last week you covered the events of the shoot-out involving two young officers, one of them being wounded, during an attempted arrest situation. Last night, I was at the hospital visiting an officer who had attempted to stop the manic activities of one of these characters on one of these four-wheel ATVs, who during the course of that incident severely injured the officer as he was going about his duties. And today, to publicly acknowledge – along with the Mayor – the activities of these two officers and the professional skills that they exhibited, working as a team. Looking at the two of them I’m somewhat reminded almost of the little wedding quote: something old – seventeen years, something new – one and a half years, something borrowed in that they’ve been borrowed to the 1-9 Precinct from the 3-0, and something certainly blue – our officers in blue.
And they did what was expected of them. And also pleased that Eric Adams, who I had the privilege of working with in the early 1990’s in the transit police, that he is here because we actually have a meeting set up very shortly, to discuss the issue of CPR training for our officers. The CPR covers a wide category of issues, because how you treat an individual is as critically important as what you’re treating them for. We have asthma attacks, we have choking incidents, we have heart issues, and each of them requires a certain type of skill and a certain type of response. We were certainly very fortunate in this instance that the EMT training that this officer had was certainly of invaluable assistance. And it really did save this young child’s life. So we will honor them certainly in a department awards ceremony, as we normally would, in the course of advancement. And I thank the mayor very much for this special honor that he’s presenting with them today: exposing them to you, as well as the acknowledgment that he will be making as the mayor for the city of New York. A job well done, and it also reinforces some of the changes that the mayor and I are seeking to make with our police department, in the sense of teaming up newer officers with our older officers. This is an experience that both of them going forward will never forget. But the idea is to, as much as possible and within reason with the size of our force, to try to give these young kids coming on the job more opportunity to work with the older officers. And this is certainly an extraordinary incident but it does reinforce, from my perspective, the idea – the direction that we’re going to team up the more seasoned officers with the younger officers as part of their learning experience. Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: Thank you, Commissioner. I just wanted to note that the Commissioner does not need a speechwriter. He came up with the ‘something old, something new, something blue’. It was very impressive, I have to say. It worked beautifully for the occasion. Let’s first give these gentlemen a certificate, and let me just read the statement of this certificate on behalf of the people of this city, presented to each of the officers for your heroic efforts to save the life of Norah Schechter. Thanks to your quick thinking, training, and years of experience as an NYPD Officer and EMT – so this is one tailor made for you, Officer – you were able to resuscitate Norah and ensure she received the medical attention she needed. I am proud to recognize your bravery and heroism and I applaud your unwavering dedication to protecting the safety of all New Yorkers.
[Mayor presents certificate to Officer Konatsotis; hugs Konatsotis]
Commissioner Bratton: Are you sure you don’t have a little Italian in you?
Mayor: It’s a Mediterranean thing.
Mayor: And Officer Roussine, for your heroic efforts to save the life of Norah Schechter. Thanks to your quick thinking and skilled emergency response, you and Officer Konatsotis were able to get Norah the help she needed as fast as possible. I join with all New Yorkers in commending your bravery and heroism, and I applaud your unwavering dedication to protecting our city.
[Mayor presents certificate to Officer Roussine, Mayor hugs Officer]
Mayor: Good, good. Officer Konatsotis, please. The floor is yours.
Officer Michael Konatsotis: Thank you very much, Your Honor and thank you, Commissioner Bratton. I just want to say I’m proud to be a NYPD police officer. I’m with the best police department in the world – in the city – and I can say one thing. My mother, who was a single parent, instilled in my brother and I as young kids in Queens, New York: make sure you treat every individual, any person you come with who needs help. And she told me when I graduated the Academy in 1997 that she was so proud, and to make sure that you instill what I’ve taught you and what I’ve learned. And I just can say, if it wasn’t for Dave and myself, we really – it was just instinct, training from this greatest police department in the world, and being a resident of the greatest city – it was just we were at the right place at the right time. And I take pride in what I do each day, each year that passes by, and I’m proud to call myself a first responder like anybody. Any first responder we have in this city, the 911 dispatcher was phenomenal. And also the fact that we knew it was a dire emergency, and we knew we had to act, and our training kicked in. The parents took the great effort and they entrusted us with their young child. And they knew, and we knew that time was of the essence. So thank you very much, Your Honor, and thank you, Commissioner. Thank you.
Mayor: Officer Roussine.
Officer David Roussine: Good afternoon. You know, everybody’s calling our actions heroic, and me and Mike realized that we were just in the right place at the right time that day. And that we were lucky enough and fortunate enough that it worked out, and anybody in our position wearing this uniform would have done the same thing. That day, someone was watching over all of us, because we were meant to be there. And I just want to thank Mike, he’s been an excellent mentor as I’ve been riding along with him these last few months, and everybody on this job who has taken me in as the new guy, and teaching me to do the right thing, the right way – and always looking out for us, so thank you.
Mayor: I just want to note that all the residents of Queens should be very proud today. We have two fine Queens boys who stood up and did the right thing. You live now – and again?
Officer Konatsotis: Bayside.
Mayor: And you’re in Jackson Heights?
[Officer Roussine nods]
Mayor: So a proud day for Queens in particular. We welcome your questions on this extraordinary moment of bravery. Welcome any questions you have for any of us on this.
Officer Konatsotis: It was on a Saturday, this past Saturday. Dave, what was the date?
Officer Roussine: The first.
Officer Konatsotis: It was the first, March first. And it happened around 2:20 p.m., approximately around that time. And we received a radio run for an unconscious, difficulty breathing baby. And we advised the dispatcher immediately to roll an EMS, which she did. But we got to the scene – rather expedient – and we took action because we were flagged down by concerned people in the – in front of the building, in front of the residence. And then, from there we acted upon the emergency.
Officer Konatsotis: Don’t know. The first thing is assessment. We assess the scene as we got our training in the Academy, in anything as far as tactics. But we saw the – once I saw the condition of the child and, Dave and I saw the condition of the child, we knew the child was unconscious. And the child was not breathing at that point, so we had to take action and swift action.
Officer Konatsotis: We did rescue breathing.
Question: For the Commissioner please. What does an episode like this mean for the size of the police force? Is there a need to increase the ranks or increase the numbers of police on the street?
Commissioner Bratton: I’m sorry – the last half of that question?
Question: Is there a need to increase the number of police officers in the force?
Commissioner Bratton: This issue here was nothing about the size of the police department. There was a 911 call, they happened to be – thank God – right in the immediate vicinity and were right there. And more importantly – more important than the numbers is the quality of training and their ability to act. And I think, as both officers have indicated, that the training kicked in. And fortunately in the case of our old man here, that he had the EMT background.
Commissioner Bratton: Although at my age, they’re all kids, no matter what their age is.
Question: After you assessed the situation, can you just recount for us the actions that you took? What you did, and what you thought?
Officer Konatsotis: At that point we exited the car. I grabbed the child from the father, and at that point, Dave and I looked at each other and said ‘let’s go’. Got the parents into the back of the patrol car, and at that point, I took the child with me in the front of the police car, the RP. And at that point we radioed ahead to the 911 dispatcher at Central to let them know the condition of the child, and that we’re going to the hospital – which was New York Hospital.
Officer Konatsotis: Yes I – yes. I started rescue breathing inside the police car in the front seat and the parents were in the back. And Gabe was an excellent pilot behind that wheel. And –
Commissioner Bratton: I think also the issue [inaudible]
Officer Konatsotis: Yes we were. We actually had an incident earlier in the morning that was – that made us familiar with the – with the location of the hospital. And so we were there earlier in the morning. And it just kind of. It just was like – our training kicked in and we knew, listen, we’ve got to get – Dave and I looked at each other and I said, ‘Get to New York Hospital right away.’ And we put that over dispatch and – You know, we acted swiftly and we did – it was a good feeling, you know, to see this young child – you know, breathing.
Question: Commissioner [inaudible] two fine officers, will they get a promotion?
Mayor: What, so you’re a lobbyist?
Commissioner Bratton: They will get a lot of accolades. As I mentioned, the department has its own ceremonial events that are further down the line. So once the paperwork goes through that – the mayor has the ability to do things a little more quickly over here. We have the bureaucracy that will move them up but – promotion no, but certainly acknowledgement, yes.
Question: [inaudible] call [inaudible] did you have to run up some stairs? Did you have to take an elevator? Where was the kid and –
Officer Konatsotis: No and again, Officer Racine was the operator. I was the – we call it the recorder. I’m in the passenger seat. And we were flagged – we were going to the call with lights – I turned on lights and sirens. And then at that point, Dave turned the corner and we were being flagged down by the – by concerned citizens that – we [inaudible] in front of the building. And at that point, we knew we had something – we had an emergency that needed to be tended to. We got out of the car, and Dave and I acted. And so they were in front of the building, they weren’t inside the apartment.
Officer Konatsotis: The parents of the child. Dave, do you want to elaborate?
Officer Roussine: The child was – it was – it went like Mike said earlier. And she was turning blue in the face. Her eyes were open but unresponsive. And that’s when Mike and I – like we said – we just looked at each other and knew and – to get there as fast as possible. And you know, Midtown can be difficult, so we had to be very careful, even with lights and sirens. And we were just happy with the end result and how fast we were able to get there. And again, the excellent response from Cornell – New York Hospital. The staff was –
Question: What age and were you actually breathing into her mouth?
Officer Konatsotis: She was 15 months old and yes, Mike was giving her rescue breath in the front seat as I was driving the car towards the hospital.
Mayor: Okay, right there.
Question: Yes, could you explain – you were giving her breathe and then [inaudible] start crying? [inaudible]
Officer Konatsotis: Well at that point I was giving her rescue breaths. I was – I did mouth to mouth resuscitation. And she – I had her cradled in my arms, knowing that it was a good airway. So I gave her rescue breathes and at that point, I put her on my chest and gave her back thrusts because at that point, it was – in my assessment, it was a respiratory arrest and that the beat – that the child wasn’t breathing and the child was unconscious. As soon as we were getting close to the emergency room, we notified the – we notified the dispatcher to have them notified and have them – have them ready for us to come. And at that point, Officer Racine safely pulled up there with the parents. And as soon as I gave the last rescue breath, the baby burped. And it was the greatest sound, you know, that I’d heard. And I know my wife doesn’t, but when I burp but –
Officer Konatsotis: I’m sorry [inaudible]
Officer Konatsotis: Mr. Mayor, I’m sorry. But, you know, it was the greatest sound. And so Dave and I – and the parents in tow. And I have to say one thing, the parents are heroes too because they did the right thing by calling 911. And again, when we acted [inaudible] it was the greatest feeling to see her crying inside the emergency room. And Commissioner, I just want to let you know, at that point I think I needed a bed at the hospital. But Dave and I – you know, we’re very proud. And they followed us and again, they entrusted us with their child. And as being first responders and being New York City police officers, it’s really a great – a great experience. I can say this – you know we do this job day in, day out. And like Dave said, you know, we’re human. And we saw this child that was out there and I would – any police officer at this point would act in the way we did. And just to say under this administration, we’re just so proud to be acknowledged. But we did what we were trained to do, so it was great.
Question: [inaudible] age?
Officer Konatsotis: Do I have to give you my real age? Forty-five.
Question: Do you have children of your own?
Officer Konatsotis: I have three, yes. Yeah.
Question: How long did it take you [inaudible]
Officer Konatsotis: Dave – Officer Racine could give you the exact numbers.
Officer Roussine: I think from the moment we arrived at the scene initially to the time we got to the hospital, it was around a minute and 20 seconds. We were moving quick. From the moment we got the job in the car and radioed ahead that we were taking it to the hospital, it was just under a minute. So – we were going fast, just the urgency of the situation. And like I said earlier, someone was just looking out for us and we got there safely. And I don’t know if we hit the lights or not, but we had every siren in that car going
Officer Roussine: So people heard us and saw us coming.
Question: And how old are you, officer?
Officer Roussine: I’m 25.
Question: And your first name is Dave?
Officer Roussine: David.
Question: [inaudible] spell your last name, please?
Officer Konatsotis: Sure. K-O-N-A, T as in tom, S-O-T-I-S.
Mayor: Any other – yes?
Question: Could you describe the reaction [inaudible] what were they like after [inaudible]?
Officer Roussine: I mean, it was very emotional in there. You know, they thanked us. We didn’t get to engage in conversation just because the – you know, how emotional it was in there. And they were tending to their child. So – I mean Mike, I think, spoke a little more. So –
Officer Konatsotis: I just want to say, you know, we were two Harlem cops – and one veteran and one – I wouldn’t say rookie because he’s got a year and a half, but – we’re proud to work in Manhattan North as we did all these years. And it was very emotional. I took over my collar brass from the 3-0 and I – we told the parents that we were just here for the day, and just to let you know that when Dora gets a little older, she can wear our NYPD collar brass. And I – and we handed it to her. And that was it. It was a job. We handled it as a job and we were proud. We were all – I was very emotional and so was Dave. And the parents were emotional, but they were so thankful. And we’re glad Nora is okay.
Officer Konatsotis: Yes , [inaudible]
Question: [inaudible] collar brass?
Officer Konatsotis: The collar brass – each – yeah, this is our precinct. So this is the 3-0 precinct. We were covering the 19th, but we still wear our precinct brass.
Question: So you gave them the 3-0 precinct?
Officer Konatsotis: Yes, absolutely. We said – I had told the mother and the father and – we told them when Nora’s ready, when she understands she can come up and visit us up in West Harlem, the 3-0 precinct. So she can remember – maybe she’ll come and remember us one day so –
Mayor: Anything else on this? Well let me just say that we are in the presence of true heroes and I think they deserve our applause.