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Tonawanda PD honors three for saving fellow officer's life

Ashley Hirtzel

Three Town of Tonawanda Police officers were honored Thursday for helping save the life of a fellow officer. The officers sprang into action when they found 44-year old Officer Kevin Zuchlewski suffering sudden cardiac arrest on Monday.

Zuchlewski was working out in the station gym when he went lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest. Another officer, Ryan Taber, heard what he thought was labored breathing at the back of the gym. Taber says he found Zuchlewski and called for help.

“Captain [Frank] McNamara and [Detective] Tom Oswald luckily were very close by and without them it wouldn’t have gone much further. I was able to get Kevin into an area where we were able to work more on him Captain McNamara came to my side and we did some sternum rubs and if you don’t respond to that, you realize there’s an issue," said Zuchlewski.

"We checked for a pulse and there wasn’t any. At one point, we actually saw the life drain from him.”

Detective Thomas Oswald went to get the AED machine. The three officers worked on Zuchlewski and administer oxygen before paramedics arrived. Zuchlewski says he remembers very little after he blacked out. He says if it wasn’t for the heroic efforts of his fellow officers, he would not be alive today. 

“I just want to send out a heartfelt thank you to everybody that was involved. My family and I are eternally grateful for the decisive actions that they took that day to save my life. You stand up here and you realize that god has a plan for you and I’m just glad that my brothers that I work with day to day are part of that plan and I can’t thank them enough,” said Zuchlewski.

Zuchlewski underwent a quintuple bypass surgery and will have to take it easy while recovering for the next several months.

“My son’s getting married in two months and the thought of not being there for that. My daughter’s coming home from the Air Force and missing her welcome home it’s just unfathomable thinking of what could have happened,” he said.

The officers are encouraging everyone to learn CPR and how to use an AED machine. They say it could save lives.