Police officers lauded for quick response
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents Jeff and Erika Garner had an hour to fritter away last Tuesday, July 18, so they thought they’d relax with a glass of beer at the Drop-in Brewery on Route 7 South and watch the world go by.
Tragically, it proved far from a relaxing visit.
The husband and wife had barely placed their glasses onto the brewery’s picnic table when they were pressed into action to help a man experiencing a massive heart attack on the property.
“It was a pretty emotional experience,” Jeff Garner said of the incident, during which he put his CPR training to use for the first time ever on a Westfield, Mass., man who would unfortunately succumb in spite of the collective efforts of the Garners, two Middlebury police officers and Middlebury Regional EMS officials.
Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley has already issued commendations to his two responding officers — Sgt. Vegar Boe and Officer Kevin Emilio — and has singled out the Garners for their Good Samaritan actions at the scene.
“Both of them did an incredible job at rendering emergency aid to a stricken man there, but on top of that it was how they comported themselves in keeping everyone calm in the face of an upsetting event,” Hanley said of Boe and Emilio.
“I received a number of calls expressing gratitude.”
It was at around 3:30 p.m. on July 18 that Erika Garner noticed a couple of people pulling 62-year-old Donald Hoagland out of a vehicle parked at the brewery. While she ran inside the business to call 911, her husband proceeded to perform mouth-to-mouth on Hoagland while an unidentified man at the scene did chest compressions. Just a few minutes later, Boe and Emilio arrived on scene and helped out with CPR while also providing a calming influence during the crisis.
Steve Parkes, co-owner of the Drop-In Brewery, said he was very impressed by the dedication and professionalism shown by all those who collaborated in an effort to save a stranger’s life.
“It was incredible,” Parkes said. “No one panicked. They tenaciously kept trying (to save Hoagland). I was very moved by it.”
Parkes also marveled at the expertise showed by Middlebury Regional EMS workers, who arrived quickly on the heels of the police and took charge of the medical care. They connected Hoagland to an IV and used a defibrillator in an effort to get his heart beating again. Jeff Garner held Hoagland’s head steady while EMTs did their work.
Garner works in the construction industry and thus has to take CPR courses every five years to make sure he is able to provide some emergency care at job sites, if needed. While he has helped injured co-workers before, this was his first experience delivering CPR to a person.
“I wish there had been a better outcome,” Garner lamented.
Boe feels the same way. He considers providing basic emergency medical assistance to be part of his job, and he is frustrated when it doesn’t pay dividends.
“It is a sad tragedy that this relatively young man died,” Boe said.
He likened last Tuesday’s coordinated effort to “a light in a very dark tunnel,” given that Hoagland unfortunately didn’t survive.
Hanley noted Boe’s and Emilio’s service went far beyond the action-packed minutes they worked feverishly in the Drop-In Brewery parking lot.
“The officers were later commended by people on-scene for their professionalism and empathy to the acquaintances of the victim and the manner in which they rendered aid and comported themselves,” Hanley said. “Both officers stayed engaged later at the hospital in tracking down family of the man who did not survive.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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