On Halloween at about 11 a..m., Joe Holler was mowing his lawn when he began to feel weak. After a few moments, the pain and weakness worsened, so Holler, concerned he might be having a heart attack, went inside and took a baby aspirin. Holler's wife called 9-1-1, and Brick Township EMTs Joseph Sharkey and Brian Schwarz arrived within six minutes. Brick Patrolman Daniel Fogarty arrived one minute later.
As Holler sat in his chair the pain grew increasingly worse to the point where he started losing consciousness, police said.
Sharkey, Schwarz and Fogarty rushed him into the ambulance where Holler went into full cardiac arrest.
The officers began life-saving measures which included CPR and the utilization of an Automated Electronic Defibrillator. After chest compressions and two shocks from the AED, Holler was revived just as paramedics were pulling up, police said.
Holler was taken to Ocean Medical Center for further treatment.
On Saturday, Officer Fogarty and EMT Schwarz were reunited with Mr. and Mrs. Holler on the front lawn of the Holler residence for a brief, COVID-safe meet and greet where Mr. Holler was able to thank the First Responders who saved his life. (Brick EMT Sharkey was unable to make the reunion.)
When recounting the job, Officer Fogarty said, “Joe [Sharkey] called it, recognized it right away. 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.”
Mrs. Holler remembers the incident all too vividly: “I got in my car and the ambulance wasn’t moving. [First Responders were working on Mr. Holler inside the ambulance]. I didn’t understand it at the time. He was talking to me when they took him out of the living room.”
Prior to the heart attack Mr. Holler 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. After the attack, Mr. Holler is recovering well, working from home and healing up nicely. Most importantly, his spirits are high. The kind of heart attack he suffered is morbidly referred to as the Widowmaker.
When asked about surviving the ordeal, Mr. Holler attributed his success to the First Responders, his faith and a healthy lifestyle. Mrs. Holler said it was God’s grace that kept her from knowing First Responders were doing CPR on her husband in the ambulance parked right in front of her.
Officer Fogarty and EMTs Sharkey and Schwartz received written commendations for their work. Chief Riccio commented, “These guys did an outstanding job. I’m glad to hear Mr. Holler is doing well. This is why we train and keep our skills at the highest level possible.”
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