Aug 7, 2011 - [timesreporter.com] - A 65-year-old man says he owes his second chance at life to an alert off-duty Dover police officer and three firefighter/paramedics who responded when he was suffering a heart attack March 13. Ron Bollacker said he was “under” for 58 seconds, but was brought back to life by the paramedics when they used their “shock paddles” (defibrillator pads) to restart his heart.
Bollacker remembers the day well. Bollacker and police Capt. Jim Hitchcock, who happens to be his neighbor, had been bowling. They returned to their respective homes with the intentions of going out later to remove a limb from a tree that was down on a phone line on Bollacker’s property. Bollacker said he wasn’t feeling well when he went inside, and he told his wife he was going to lie down for awhile. Within 10 minutes, he said Hitchcock came over with a rope and knocked on his window.
“I came outside. I felt ill,” Bollacker said. “He took one look at me, and with his experience, he said, ‘I’ll call an ambulance.’ ” In the meantime, Bollacker said he began getting “really sick,” and was sitting on his porch. After the ambulance arrived, and Bollacker was placed inside, it was only three or four minutes when “I went out,” he said. “They didn’t even get me out of the driveway and I went under,” Bollacker said, referring to his heart having stopped beating.
While he was “under,” Bollacker had a near-death experience. He remembers being in a dark hallway, on the left was a doorway, and a bright light was coming out from underneath the door. As he reached for the doorknob and was turning it, he heard a voice on the other side, “as clear as a bell, say ‘Pop, it’s not your time yet.’” Bollacker said one of his sons, Ron Jr., died two years ago at age 40, “and he was the only one who calls me, ‘Pop.’” His two other sons, Timmy, 38, and Terry, 36, call him “Dad,” he noted. “And as I was turning (the doorknob) I heard him; I woke up in the ambulance and I was back,” he said.
Bollacker said his March 13 heart attack was his second, noting that he had a triple bypass for his heart in 2004, and a triple bypass for an aneurysm in his abdomen, and another triple bypass for his heart following the March 13 attack. “I just want to recognize him (Hitchcock) and the three guys who saved my life,” Bollacker said. Hitchcock, who has lived next to Bollacker on Winkler Hill Road for 10 years, said modestly that he “didn’t do anything that anyone else wouldn’t have done.” Hitchcock credits firefighter/paramedics Bill Harrington, Jason Bambeck and Kyle Ousley, who were on call that day, with being “the guys who should be credited with saving his life.”
He said Bollacker didn’t want him to call an ambulance that day, “saying, ‘What if nothing’s wrong?’” Hitchcock said he told Bollacker, “If there’s no problem, then there’s no problem and they’ll leave,” – and he called for the emergency squad. Hitchcock said he was told later that had he not called when he did, “they probably wouldn’t have been able to save him.” Harrington agrees that had Bollacker’s heart stopped before they arrived, they would have had “an uphill battle.” He said Bollacker was in the ambulance a minute or two when suddenly there was no pulse, and he was not breathing. Bollacker, at that point, was “clinically dead,” Harrington said. After Bollacker’s heart had “flatlined” for about 10 seconds, he applied the electrical shock with the defibrillator pads, and his heart was restarted.
During the trip to Union Hospital in Dover, Bollacker began breathing normally and told the paramedics he was pain-free. However, by the time they arrived at Union Hospital, his pain had returned. After being treated in the emergency room, he was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Canton where his surgery was performed.
“I’m just glad we were able to help,” Harrington said, noting that is what they train for. “It’s nice to know that sometimes you can make a difference,” he added.