Greece Odyssey Basketball Team Honors Dozens of First Responders

GREECE, N.Y. – High school students in Greece honored dozens of the first responders who cover their community on Monday evening.  The tribute happened before the boys varsity basketball game at the Odyssey Academy. 

Many of the student-athletes have been following the news of Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest closely all week.  They understand that first responders saved his life and on Monday night, they got to meet first responders in their own community who have done the same for others. 

A parade of emergency vehicles arrived at the game with flashing lights and then first responders were escorted into the gym by a pipe band and the team, each member carrying an American flag.  After the national anthem, each player shook hands with each responder.  Their coaches and administrators saying the event comes down to showing respect, “They’re understanding that they’re real people, they’re out there… every day that you’re here to play basketball and enjoy your game, these people are out serving their community, every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” says Greece School Board President, Sean McCabe.

“It shows how much they care about our community and the people that protect it,” says Jeff Jung, a former Odyssey coach that created the first, first responders night five years ago.  While the event has become an annual one, this year the power these first responders can have in life and death situations was on full display nationally, following the cardiac arrest of Damar Hamlin, “the first responders were there, the rapid CPR, the rapid AED, the rapid intubation, it was amazing and they saved his life,” McCabe says, “These people do it every day with no recognition, nobody really recognizes that… maybe a family recognizes that they saved a loved one and so that’s why we wanna do it. We want them to understand that we appreciate them, and all they do for our community.”

The Hamlin situation has also triggered first responders and particularly the schools they work with, to review their training and equipment to ensure they’re ready when they need to be, “we’ve really taken a closer look at all of our AEDs on campus district-wide, as well as all of our safety protocols to make sure that we’re up to snuff and we’re doing a great job at following our protocols and making sure that everything is up-to-date with our CPR and AED certifications,” says Ray Istas, the Athletic Director at Greece Schools.