Firefighter Reunited With EMT Who Saved Him 30-Years Earlier

30 YR Reunion

When first responders save people’s lives they rarely get to reunite with them. However, in the case of one Boston EMT, he was united with a young man who he had rescued 30 year prior.


David Bortolotto was an 18-year-old lifeguard working with the West Roxbury YMCA. He was teaching preschool- age children how to swim when a portion of the roof fell.

Bortolotto was hit by the falling piece of roof. However, he made sure to get all of he children out of the water.

“The roof was a slab of concrete. The concrete was about 3 feet thick, and the slabs were 18 feet long, said Bortolotto. The first piece that fell, I grabbed a small boy that was standing on the edge, and I crouched over, which is where I got hit, so it bounced off of my head and hit his arm.”

David Bortolotto

Heavy Injuries

Soon Bortolotto succumbed to his injuries and collapsed on the ground. He says he remembers seeing his hair on his shoulders, instead of it being on his head.

Bortolotto had also lost over a third of the blood in his body. Boston EMT Melvin Reed was dispatched to the scene.

Reed said, “I couldn’t leave his side, I had to treat him. I didn’t want to paralyze him, so I had to stabilize him. I along with the help of my partner lifted him up and took him on to the stretcher and sent Dave straight to the hospital.”

Before the incident, Bortolotto was working on an engineering degree. After his experience with Reed, he changed his focus to the medical field.

Keeping In Touch

Bortolotto asked Reed for a ride-along so he could see what it was like to be an EMT. However, as years went by, he and Reed lost contact.

Through Emergency Medical Service, Bortolotto was able to get back in touch with Reed. He was able to thank him for saving his life 30 years ago and for changing his career path.

Bortolotto was also able to introduce Reed to his wide and three kids. Reed was thrilled to see Bortolotto again and humbled to have influenced his decision to become a first responder.

“To save this young man and to see his lovely family, I see he has done really well, it’s a really good feeling. I feel very honored about that.”

Melvin Reed





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