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Hermosa Beach police officers set aside lunch, save a life

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(From left) Officers Dean Garkow and Josh Droz. Photo by Ed Pilolla.

Two Hermosa Beach police officers helped save a man’s life after he suffered a heart attack while stopped at a stop sign on Pier Avenue.

Officer Dean Garkow was outside the back door of the police department on Bard Street ready to go to lunch Monday, Oct. 29 at about noon when he heard someone call for help from the next door fire department. The fire department was empty of paramedics because the five-man shift was responding to an emergency call at Valley Park.

After Garkow discovered that the man’s friend had collapsed while driving, the 16-year veteran of the Hermosa Beach Police Department set his lunch down, informed dispatch officers about the situation and hustled out of the fire station.

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He found a 60-year-old man behind the wheel of his car in the right hand lane in front of Stars Antique Market. Garkow, who had never before performed CPR, began chest compressions with his left hand while the man was slumped over behind the steering wheel.

“He looked dead,” said Officer Josh Droz, who set aside his own lunch after hearing the call and showed up at the scene shortly after Garkow.

“Thankfully, he had his foot on the brake,” Droz said.

Together, the officers pulled the man from his car and brought him to the sidewalk where Garkow continued CPR. After about the 20th breath, the man took a large inhalation, Garkow said.

Hermosa Beach firefighters were returning to the fire station after attending to a seizure victim in Valley Park when they received a call about the emergency on Pier Avenue, said Cpt. James Crawford.

HB Firefighters, who rode with the heart attack victim to Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, administered advanced medical treatment, including cardio-defibrillation, in which the patient is shocked into a different heart rhythm, Crawford said. The patient was transported in a Manhattan Beach Fire Department ambulance because the Hermosa Beach ambulance was transporting the seizure victim to a hospital, Crawford said.

The 60-year-old man who suffered the heart attack, described as health conscious and from the South Bay, remains in the hospital but is doing fine, Crawford said.

“The quick reaction of our police officer starting CPR immediately quite possibly helped us resuscitate him as well as kept the oxygen flowing to the brain,” Crawford said on Monday. “So once he was resuscitated, he had no deficit. I spoke to the guy today and he’s perfectly normal.”

Garkow said he feels good about the experience only because the man survived. Other police officers have performed CPR but in a losing effort.

“It was the right place and time,” Garkow said. “Knowing he made it, it’s a very good feeling.”

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