A man in cardiac arrest died after waiting for an ambulance for nearly an hour on a street in Newark on Tuesday evening.
According to witnesses, the incident happened outside the St. John's Church on McCarter Highway, where a volunteer non-profit group from Hudson County feeds hundreds of the city's needy every Tuesday night.
The man was reportedly waiting in line to get food when he suddenly collapsed.
Volunteers from the "Help to Feed the Hungry" jumped into action and began CPR on the man while several others made multiple calls to EMS/Paramedics for assistance.
"Shortly after we started feeding the folks, one of our regular guys went into cardiac arrest. We found ourselves trying to keep this man alive for over 45 minutes," one of the volunteers at the non-profit organization said.
Once the EMS unit arrived, the unidentified man had already taken his last breaths and was prayed over by two of the non-profit group members while he laid unresponsive on the concrete.
"We managed to feed everyone and stay with the man until help arrived. In our close to 5 years, we have seen many things: drug overdoses, seizures and fights, things we normally do not speak about. However, seeing someone die right in front of us was extremely difficult for all of us".
Before the man slipped into unconsciousness, I was able to pray for him," one of the 'Help to Feed the Hungry' members said.
An obvious shortage in Newark's EMS/ Paramedics fleet has been a concern since the year began in January and response time hasn't gotten much better and forced city officials to act.
On Friday, Newark's Mayor The Honorable Ras J. Baraka and Public Safety Director Brian A. O’Hara will announce that Newark Firefighters will serve as first responders in all life-threatening calls for service at a press conference to be held at Engine 10, located at 360 Clinton Avenue, Newark, 2 p.m.
Newark Firefighters will be dispatched to all life-threatening calls for service requiring first responder and emergency medical response, according to city officials.
Mayor Baraka said Newark Firefighters would deliver advanced and basic life support services, including cardiac monitoring and defibrillation, hemorrhage control, airway clearance, initial wound care and more.
"Newark Fire Houses will also serve as a Neighborhood First Aid Stations, providing basic first aid for minor injuries such as cuts, bloody noses, splinters, etc.," Mayor Baraka said.
New signage has also been posted at each Newark Fire House, pointing residents in the direction of these services.