MISHAWAKA – What began as a routine “complaint” investigation in a quiet neighborhood suddenly turned tense for responding officers when one of their own collapsed.
It happened in the 100 block of Leyte Avenue just after 8 Wednesday morning.
“He was outside standing up and I saw him go back,” said Holly Hall, who watched it unfold with her small children. “He had a pale face and all the cops came running. My kids were like ‘Mommy, what’s going on? What’s going on?’”
Another neighbor, David Penn, said he suddenly saw several more squad cars, an ambulance and fire truck rush to the scene.
Several officers, both on and off duty, heard the radio call for an officer down.
“Your heart just drops,” said Mishawaka police Lt. Tim Williams. “It [brought] me back to one of the worst days in my career in 2003 when two of our officers were shot and killed. Then you go back to the night that Officer Sczuba was killed.”
Medics responded within a few minutes.
“The system was put into place that most likely resulted in saving his life,” said St. Joseph Regional Medical Center Physician Dr. George Drew, who treated the collapsed officer in the emergency room.
The medics called the hospital, alerting them of what appeared to be a heart patient and the ER, in turn, alerted a cardiologist, said Dr. Drew.
In what Williams said is standard procedure in extremely critical cases, cops blocked intersections along Main Street to get their fallen brother to the hospital quickly.
“It’s really coming together as parts of a dance that work very well together,” described Dr. Drew. “When there's been a collapse, the faster we get the blood going to the heart, going to the head, the faster the outcome. So minutes do matter.”
It was about 40 minutes from the time that officer went down to when he was up in the catheterization lab, Drew said. Hospitals typically aim for at least a 90 minute window as the “gold standard” of getting a patient to the lab within 90 minutes of arriving at the ER.
After what Drew described as a “procedure” in the cath lab, good news spread among off duty officers gathered at the hospital – their fallen brother was expected to be OK.
“As far as I know the procedure they did worked out great and that's going to give a family their father back, their husband back, their uncle, their brother, which is a miracle. It's awesome to see,” said Williams.
Police have not released the name of the officer who collapsed, saying they are waiting to notify family members. Williams would only say that officer has been on the force a long time.