BRICK – It could have been a very different holiday season for a local family.
On Halloween, Joe Holler was mowing his lawn when he began to feel weak. When the pain and weakness worsened, the 63-year-old feared a heart attack. He went inside, took a baby aspirin, and his wife called 9-1-1.
Brick Township EMTs Joseph Sharkey and Brian Schwarz arrived within six minutes, police said. Patrolman Daniel Fogarty arrived one minute later.
Holler started to lose consciousness. The first responders rushed him into the ambulance where he went into full cardiac arrest. He was revived by chest compressions and two shocks from the defibrillator. He was brought to Ocean Medical Center for further treatment.
Jump forward a month and a half. It’s December 12, and Fogarty and Schwarz came to visit Mr. and Mrs. Holler at their home. They had a brief, COVID-safe meet and greet on the front lawn where Mr. Holler was able to thank the men who saved his life. Sharkey was unable to make the reunion.
When recounting the day, 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.”
She said it was God’s grace that kept her from knowing that first responders were working on keeping her husband alive right in front of her.
Mr. Holler credited his survival to the first responders, his faith, and a healthy lifestyle. 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.
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.”