BRICK, NJ — Brick Township first responders were reunited with a township man whose life they saved following a near-fatal heart attack on Halloween, Brick police said Tuesday.
Joe Holler, 63, and his wife, Theresa, were able to thank Brick emergency medical technician Brian Schwarz and Patrolman Daniel Fogarty, who along with EMT Joseph Sharkey performed CPR on Holler after the heart attack, saving his life, Sgt. Jim Kelly said. Sharkey was unable to attend the reunion on Saturday.
Joe Holler was cutting the grass at his home about 11 a.m. on Halloween when he started to feel weak, and as the pain and weakness worsened, he went inside and took a baby aspirin, Kelly said. Theresa called 911, and Sharkey and Schwarz arrived within 6 minutes, with Fogarty arriving a minute later.
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When they arrived, Holler was sitting in a chair and the pain was worsening to where he started to lose consciousness, so the EMTs and Fogarty rushed him into the ambulance, where Holler went into cardiac arrest, Kelly said.
“Joe (Sharkey) called it, recognized it right away,” Fogarty said. “We got him on a cot real quick and got him out to the truck, and sure enough, as soon as the hook connected to the cot he nodded out and we jumped into the truck and began CPR.”
The officers performed CPR and shocked Holler twice with an automated electronic defibrillator, and revived him just as paramedics arrived, while his wife waited in her car behind them, not knowing he had gone into cardiac arrest.
“I got in my car and the ambulance wasn’t moving,” Theresa Holler said. “I didn’t understand it at the time. He was talking to me when they took him out of the living room.” She said it was God’s grace that kept her from knowing the first responders were doing CPR on her husband in the ambulance parked right in front of her.
Joe Holler was taken to Ocean Medical Center and now is recovering well and working from home. Doctors later told him he had suffered a kind of heart attack referred to as “the widowmaker,” Kelly said.
When asked about surviving the ordeal, Holler attributed it to first responders, his faith and a healthy lifestyle. Prior to the heart attack he was camping and hiking regularly, kept his weight down and got regular check-ups. His cholesterol was perfect and he kept himself in good shape, he told Kelly.
“These guys did an outstanding job,” Brick Police Chief James Riccio said of the three, who received written commendations for their work. “I’m glad to hear Mr. Holler is doing well. This is why we train and keep our skills at the highest level possible.”