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A Life Saved and Two Lives Forever Connected; Westford Firefighters Rushed into Action at Gillette Stadium on Christmas Eve

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Fire Lt. James Crocker of the Groton Fire Department. Crocker, a Westford resident, is seen with his dog Sadie (right) and a Westford friend's dog named Shay. COURTESY PHOTO
Fire Lt. James Crocker of the Groton Fire Department. Crocker, a Westford resident, is seen with his dog Sadie (right) and a Westford friend’s dog named Shay. COURTESY PHOTO

Westford Firefighter/Paramedic John Tuomi. COURTESY PHOTO
Westford Firefighter/Paramedic John Tuomi. COURTESY PHOTO

A few hours before John Tuomi went to mass with his family this Christmas Eve and then reported for work at the Westford fire station, he saved a life at Gillette Stadium.

It was a holiday he and his friend James Crocker, 31, of Westford will never forget. The duo’s names will forever be connected in relation to their heroic efforts at the Patriots versus Jets game earlier that day.

Tuomi, 30, who lives in West Townsend, is a paramedic firefighter on the Westford force. Crocker is a lieutenant/emergency medical technician on the Groton Fire Department. The two met in Westford at the Rogers Fire Station while in training at the Fire Academy, nine years ago.

They had just arrived a few minutes late at the Pats game in Foxboro when they saw a man in his 30s trying to rouse his unconscious father a few rows in front of their bleacher seats.

“You  could see something was not right,” Tuomi said.

The two public safety officials lay the man in the aisle between the seats and began performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

“James…was in a good position to do chest compressions,” Tuomi said.

They couldn’t feel a pulse, so they kept going until they got a heartbeat. That pattern of getting and losing a pulse recurred even after a local police officer brought them a defibrillator and they shocked the man’s heart into action. As they waited for the ambulance crew to arrive and carry him out, they secured the man with a backboard and moved him up the stairs.

The crew revived the man again in the elevator, Tuomi said. The patient has since been released from the hospital, he added.

Did they ever learn the man’s name?

“No,” said Tuomi, “He’s John Doe. Just knowing he’s alive is good enough for us.”

It was a good day all around. Crocker said he was home by 7 p.m. when he went off with his family to his grandmother’s house on West Street for dinner. Tuomi got to the fire station by around 2 a.m. and relieved a fellow worker who went home to celebrate Christmas with his family.

And the Pats won 41 to 3.

Follow Joyce Pellino Crane on Twitter @joypellinocrane.

This story was updated on Jan. 2 to add John Tuomi’s age and correct typographical errors.