Posted on 05/09/2014

These four gentlemen deserve this special recognition, due to their willingness to get involved to save their co-worker’s life. Mr. Jhorman Gomez related that about one month prior to Mr. Kowalchuk’s cardiac arrest, he was aware of another employee that was observed sitting in a chair for a prolonged period of time. When someone finally checked on him he was unresponsive. Jhorman states that Fire Rescue was called but no one did anything until EMS was on the scene. He states he watched the paramedics perform CPR, but unfortunately this co-worker did not survive. Jhorman vowed he would take action if anything like this happened again.

On July 12, 2011, a similar scenario happened. His friend and co-worker Ken Kowalchuk, slumped in his chair while in the cafeteria. He saw people hovering around Ken, but not doing anything. He rushed to his side, laid him down on the floor and initiated cardiac compressions, as he had observed the paramedics do. James Collins and Mike Johnson both assisted with the CPR efforts. John Richardson ran to get the AED, and fearfully pushed the button, when the AED declared, “Shock Required”. John shocked him a minimum of 3 times. They continued their efforts for at least 20 minutes, until fire rescue was on the scene and took over.

Mr. Kowalchuk was brought to Homestead Hospital’s Emergency Department, where he finally had return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). However, he was comatose. Therapeutic hypothermia was started, 24 hours later he was rewarmed without any neurological deficits. He was diagnosed as having a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). Six days after his admission to Homestead Hospital, he was transferred to South Miami Hospital for a cardiac catheterization and then underwent cardiac bypass surgery. He fully recovered and returned to work. Upon his return, he had to keep telling James, Jhorman, Mike and John to quit hovering over him.

Without the quick thinking and willingness to get involved by Jhorman, John, James and Mike, Ken would not have survived. None of these men had the responsibility to perform CPR or use an AED as part of their job duties, but they did what needed to be done. Their actions enabled the paramedics, nurses and physicians to complete the chain of survival.

Nominated by Rosemary Lee , Homestead, FL