On Aug. 23, 2007, Joe Ferraro went out to mow his lawn.
This is a major undertaking for Ferraro, whose lawn is 55 acres and whose mower is a tractor.
But when Ferraro, 66, of Hillsdale, in Columbia County, hopped off the tractor to take a break, something went horribly wrong.
Ferraro fell to the ground. The tractor hit his body and rolled over him before dragging him through the field. Nobody heard his screams for help.
Minutes later, Ferraro, barely conscious, badly beaten on the ground with several fractures and broken limbs, including his collarbone, ribs, toes, ankles, tibias, collar bone and jaw, thought to do the only thing a person, all alone in a 55-acre field, could do. He called 911.
Somewhere between the dispatcher and the EMS department in Hillsdale, calls were transferred and respondents were assigned to the scene, as Ferraro remained motionless, barely able to blink his eyes. Fourteen minutes later he was rescued, and it was not a Hillsdale EMS responder who saved his life.
They're my angels, Ferraro said, referring to two flight responders from the Colonie EMS Lifeguard Program who transported Ferraro to safety that summer day. Forty minutes from the time Ferraro was injured by the tractor, he arrived at the door of Albany Medical Center.
"He would have never survived without them," said his wife, Cindi Ferraro.
"They were able to stabilize me and give me a 5 percent chance of being here today," said Ferraro at the Thursday, July 24, Town Board meeting, "[It took] 13 surgeons, six procedures and 150 nurses."
But his rescuers, Paul Toscino and Dennis Wood, did not just drop him off at the door of the hospital. During Ferraro's stay, they came back to visit him.
"It became so personal when [they] did come to visit my family," Ferraro said.