‘Job well done’ | Herald of Cranston



It was a proud day for the town of Warwick, and in particular for the Warwick Fire Service.

On Monday, Oct. 24, the 2nd-floor conference room at Station 1 was packed with city officials, statewide press, and fire department command personnel when Mayor Frank Picozzi read a proclamation commending Fire Department Captain Andrew Sisson for “his heroic and life-saving efforts in assisting a person in distress while off duty Saturday, October 15th.

“It’s one of those days when the whole town can come together and shout loud and clear ‘job well done,'” Picozzi said.

As Fire Chief Peter McMichael put it simply, “At the end of the day, someone walks around today because of their actions.”

Sisson, a 14-year-old veteran, grew up in the Lakewood section of Warwick and attended Veterans Memorial High School, graduating in 2005 (he later attended CCRI). He’s been surfing since he was a baby (well, not really alone at the time, but definitely in the hands of his father, who took him surfing on his long board when he was a baby).

On October 15, Andy was meeting a friend to surf in Little Compton.

The first place he visited had shifting winds, so he decided to try another place. (Andy knows the area well, having spent summers there with his family his entire life).

As he drove to the beach parking lot, he noticed a guy about 150 feet out to sea pulling another man onto the shore.

Andy jumped out of his truck and immediately rushed to help.

The waves that day were unusually large, sweeping you sideways as you tried to navigate them, Andy explained.

When Andy reached the men, who were now waist deep in water, he thought the person saving the other must be exhausted.

He was right, because the rescuer passed the person in distress to Andy.

Andy picked him up and was joined by two other people who carried him to the parking lot where he was breathing but in a very distressed state. Andy figured the man must be in his fifties.

At this point, a registered nurse, who was from Hawaii, joined Andy and the two checked the pulse. They didn’t feel it.

While Andy began chest compressions, the nurse maintained his airway.

Andy then asked a worried onlooker to set his phone’s timer to 2 minutes.

After 2 minutes, he checked the pulse again. Again, there were none.

Andy and the nurse then switched positions, with the nurse doing chest compressions and Andy maintaining the airway.

After about a minute of compression, the rescue from the Little Compton Fire Department arrived. Andy quickly drove to the truck, identified himself and informed them that the subject was breathing but had no pulse and believed he was in “v-fib” (ventricular fibrillation).

Andy and a member of the Little Compton department then cut off the man’s wetsuit, so that Little Compton FD could put the monitor pads on his chest. He was definitely v-fib, so they started defibrillation.

Fortunately, the man’s pulse returned, but it only lasted about 5 minutes, short of the 10 minutes needed to move him carefully.

After a second defibrillation, the pulse lasted 10 minutes, so they immediately transported the man to Saint Anne Hospital in Fall River.

Fortunately, the man fully recovered and was sent home.

So what did Andy do after his heroic actions?

“I grabbed my surfboard and jumped in the water. It was a great day thanks to the great surf and the high you get when you help someone out!” He surfed for 3 hours.

Andy seemed a little uncomfortable with all the praise that the mayor, council members Ladouceur, Foley and McElroy who were in attendance, as well as Rep. Vella-Wilkinson and fire department command personnel, including Chief McMichael and Deputy Chief Cobb.

He credited everyone but himself.

But it was a day to celebrate that he had saved a man’s life.

As Chief McMichael said, “Captain Sisson has done great credit to the department and to himself by doing what the Warwick Fire Department does every day….not only when in uniform, but also when not in use.

Mayor Picozzi concluded the event by stating, “The Warwick Fire Department is a source of great pride and comfort to our residents. It only reinforces it.


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