The last thing you'd expect to happen while taking a walk on a summer's night is to wake up days later at the hospital.
But when Park Ridge resident Bradford Wisniewski did, he knew who to thank. He did just that Monday night as Officer Kenneth King was given the Park Ridge Police Department's Lifesaver Award.
"This is the best part of the job; recognition of an officer who goes above and beyond the call of duty," Police Chief Frank Kaminiski said while introducing King and Wisniewski to a packed council chamber. "You have to react, you have to make split-second decisions and you have to know what to do. This is where your training comes in."
Wisniewski, 62, was walking from Niles, where his wife was in a medical center, to his daughter's apartment in Park Ridge late in the evening of Aug. 2 when he collapsed at the corner of Touhy Avenue and Wisner Street. King and his partner, Officer David LaFrancis, were the first on the scene, arriving at approximately 11:40 p.m. They found Wisniewski unresponsive, not breathing, and without a pulse. King immediately began CPR while LaFrancis got the Automatic Electronic Defibrillator that all Park Ridge squad cars carry.
King said paramedics arrived before the device could be used and Wisniewski began breathing again as he was hooked up to an EKG monitor.
"Everything just kicked in. It became automatic because we'd done it so many times in training," King said, adding this was the first time in his 11 years with the police department that he used CPR in the course of his duties.
"There's no adequate way to thank someone for saving your life," Wisniewski said, adding that when he was asked to come to Monday's meeting, "I said I'd come and give him a big kiss, too."
"On behalf of myself and my family, I can only thank you very much," he told King.
Wisniewski said he learned about the incident after he awoke from a coma at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, but it took awhile to absorb everything. Upon being told "I almost bought the big one," Wisniewski said his main thoughts were of the hell that his family experienced.
"That's the worst thing in the world that you'd want to put your family through," he said. "I will forever be grateful [to King]."
Oddly, Wisniewski said he felt fine that night. "I had no idea that this was coming or that this would happen. I didn't feel ill," he said. Recently cleared by his doctor to resume working out, Wisniewski said, "I'll be back to lifting weights and on the treadmill."
"You're one of our exemplary officers," Mayor David Schmidt told King before handing the ribbon to Wisniewski, who then handed it to King's wife, who pinned it on the officer's uniform as the full crowd gave him a standing ovation.
All Park Ridge police officers are trained in CPR, and the entire department was recertified last year, Kaminski said.