Mark McCullough

The most significant moment of the evening came before the Patriots even took the field at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night when Needham firefighter Mark McCullough and another firefighter saved a man’s life. 

A 22-year veteran of the Needham Fire Department, McCullough was awaiting the start of the game with friends, including retired NFD Chief Dennis Condon, when he saw two police officers running past.

“That kind of piqued my interest for a second,” McCullough said. “I looked over and I saw a gentleman on the ground. So I started making my way over that way, not sure what was going on.” At the same time another firefighter who was attending the game, Anthony Colella from Rhode Island, had the same instinct.

When McCullough told the police he was a paramedic they asked him to help. The two firefighters determined the man had no pulse and was not breathing, so they began to administer CPR. He responded and began to breathe. 

“At that point in time he was not really coherent yet,” McCullough said. ”He started talking but was not really saying the right things. So we helped clean him up and I kind of sat him up and then the EMS got there from the Gillette Stadium EMS and they took over care at that point.” 

McCullough said it all happened very quickly, over the course of a few minutes, which he said felt longer than it probably was. “It might have been just a few minutes but we were talking to him, we got him back, it was quick. From the time that he had fallen to the time that me and Anthony got to him was probably less than 30 seconds.” 

Although he has responded to numerous situations in his two decades as a paramedic, McCullough says it’s the first time he was involved in something to this extent with CPR.

“I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time. It’s what we do, it’s what we’ve been trained to do. You see something that happens, you just, it kind of just clicks and goes. There’s no thought process of ‘should I do this’ it’s just, ‘OK let’s help out and see what we can do.’” 

Needham Fire Chief Tom Conroy said he wasn’t surprised at all by McCullough’s actions. “It’s the kind of guy he is.” 

Since Sunday night McCullough has been getting a lot of attention, something he’s not used to. “It’s all been positive,” he said, “and a little surreal. It’s not just me, you know, Anthony was there. I can imagine any other firefighter or police officer or nurse, they would do the exact same thing that we did.”

Chief Conroy said this is why they train. “We’re on duty 24 hours a day. We’re always proud of our firefighters.”

McCullough said he hopes to hear an update on the man’s condition. “We want to know how he’s doing. Hopefully the outcome is good.”

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