Police officer thanks colleagues who saved his life

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – This Father’s Day could have been the last for Town of Tonawanda Police Officer Kevin Zuchlewski.

The 44-year-old had just finished working out June 16 and was in a back corner of the department’s locker room when he went into sudden cardiac arrest.

He explained what was going through his head, “My son’s getting married in two months and the thought of not being there for that, my daughter is coming home from he Air Force tonight and missing her welcome home, it’s unfathomable to think of what could have happened.”

His life could have ended there, but his colleague somehow heard that something wasn’t right.

Officer Ryan Taber said, “If anyone has ever heard that noise of labored breathing, you know what I’m talking about. It’s very distinct and I’ve heard it on many EMS calls and I’ve heard it and at first I thought maybe it was someone cleaning but once I figured out what it was, I knew what I was going to find.”

Taber found Zuchlewski unconscious and ran to get help.

Captain Frank McNamara helped begin chest compressions while Detective Thomas Oswald ran to the front desk to get an AED.

“We’ve all done it on people we don’t know and that’s stressful, but when it’s one of your colleagues, your brother, for me it’s more stressful,” Captain McNamara explained.

Paramedics rushed Zuchlewski to the hospital where he needed a quintuple bypass surgery. His parents then rushed to be by his side.

His mother said, “We are just so grateful really; how do you thank people that saved your child’s life?”

They all had the chance to say thank you to the officers during a ceremony Thursday at police headquarters.

Officer Zuchlewski’s wife Jen said, “We can’t thank them enough can’t put a value on human life and that’s what they gave us back.”

The department has since added two new AEDs to the building, including one right outside the locker rooms.

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