RI State Police Col. Manni recalls near-death experience, thanks EMS crew who saved his life

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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — In his nearly four decades of responding to emergencies, R.I. State Police Col. James Manni said he’d never been on the other side of one of those calls.

That is, until July 23.

Manni said he was outside in his yard weed whacking that evening when he was stung several times by a swarm of yellow jackets.

“I’ve been stung many times in my life being an avid outdoorsman, so I really didn’t think too much about it,” he recalled during a South Kingstown Town Council meeting Monday evening.

Manni said his wife heard the commotion and ran outside to help.

“After some choice expletives that I was yelling in the yard, she said ‘alright, relax,'” Manni said with a chuckle. “But within minutes I knew something wasn’t right, I could just tell.”

Once inside, Manni said he decided to take a cold shower in hopes that it would make him feel better.

But he never made into the shower.

“By the time I made it upstairs, I passed out,” he said. “My wife said I looked dead.”

Manni said his wife immediately called 911 and South Kingstown EMS arrived at his home within six minutes.

He doesn’t recall much, other than waking up to hear the “soothing” voice of paramedic Sarah Peet, who was attempting to resuscitate him.

“It was like an angel’s voice that woke me up,” he recalled.

When he asked what was going on, Manni said Peet told him he nearly died twice.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that they saved my life,” Manni said. “I was one-to-three minutes from passing away if I did not get that [medical] attention.”

Manni thanked Peet, along with her colleagues South Kingstown EMS Capt. Frank Capaldi and paramedic Keith DeCesare, for their efforts.

“The way they responded and the professionalism they showed me and my family that day was second to none,” he said.

Craig Stanley, chief of EMS for South Kingstown, said he couldn’t be more proud of his paramedics.

“I can tell you, having been a paramedic for 33 years, the two calls I have the utmost respect for that can go wrong very quickly is someone having an asthma attack and someone an allergic reaction,” Stanley said. “Those six minutes, they speak for themselves. The outcome would’ve been very different.”

After Manni personally recognized the paramedics who saved his life, the South Kingstown Town Council unanimously passed a resolution honoring them for their heroic actions.

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