Man overdoses, stabs firefighter helping him - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Man overdoses, stabs firefighter helping him

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Joel Burgess Joel Burgess

TROY, N.Y. -- Troy Police have arrested and charged a 32-year-old man they say stabbed a firefighter trying to help him during a heroin overdose.

Troy Fire Chief Tom Garett says the incident started as a routine medical call to a Hannaford parking lot on 126th Street around 2:50 p.m. Thursday for reports of a man down and unresponsive. At that point, it was quickly determined the man - Joel Burgess of Mechanicville - was victim to a drug overdose from heroin.

"Firefighters who are also trained as paramedics were able to get him inside of an ambulance and treat the man with a narcan which reverses the heroin overdose," said Garett.

Responders were successful in treating him for the overdose, but as he was coming out of his stupor, he became combative.

"He stabbed one of our paramedics with a needle or lancet," Garett said.

According to police, that object was tainted with the blood Burgess. Both Burgess and the fireman were taken to Samaritan Hospital for treatment.

But once at the hospital, Chief Garrett says the man tore out his IV and ran out of the hospital before doctors could test him to see if he was HIV positive or had any other disease.

"He's married, got family. He's concerned," said Garrett. The chief is hoping the medication the firefighter is taking can prevent any infection from setting in.

Police were called and began actively searching for the suspect, accused of stabbing a firefighter trying to save his life.

The suspect was apprehended in Schaghticoke by the Rensselaer County Sheriff's office and transferred to the Troy Police Department.

And with this incident, the risks associated with being an EMT or firefighter is truly highlighted.

Debbie Lamerts, head EMT in Castleton, says they had a similar situation where a patient reacted violently to their crew on a call and she says it's all about being trained to be ready for anything.

Lamerts says even though the job comes with its risks, she urges anyone interested in getting into the field to still pursue it. 

"Don't be afraid. It's one of the best most rewarding professions. It just takes one person to say ‘thank you' to make it all worthwhile. There is nothing else quite as rewarding," said Lamerts.

He is charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the seventh-degree, Criminally Possessing a Hypodermic Instrument, Assault in the second-degree, and Obstructing Emergency Medical Services.

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