Two Hermosa Beach Police Officers will be honored with the Distinguished Service Award at the South Bay Medal of Valor Award luncheon in Torrance on May 30 for their quick reactions resuscitating a local man who had gone into cardiac arrest while driving.
The anonymous local Hermosa Beach businessman Officers Josh Droz and Dean Garkow saved will be at the event to see them for the first time since the incident.
“I’m thrilled that I’m alive and will be able to attend the banquet,” the man said. “They’re well deserved. While I was there, I wasn’t really there and don’t know much about what happened, but from what I hear they were fantastic and stepped in and performed a wonderful, wonderful thing.”
The South Bay Medal of Valor is awarded to outstanding individual police officers and firefighters in the South Bay who have distinguished themselves by bravery, heroism or other outstanding meritorious actions beyond the normal demands of protection service.
“I was at the right place at the right time in front of the right people,” he said, adding that over the past months he has heard stories of others that had the same type of arterial blockage but weren’t as lucky.
Officer Garkow, a 16-year veteran of the HBPD, along with six-year HBPD Officer Droz, reacted quickly after being flagged down near the police station by a man who told him that his friend had passed out while driving home from exercising on the Strand.
“They came to a stop sign and their vehicle didn’t move and his friend looked over and saw his buddy slumped over the wheel motionless,” said Garkow.
Luckily, Garkow was nearby. He quickly ran to the green Jeep that was stopped just outside Stars Antique Market and Pier Avenue, checked his pulse and determined that the local man had gone into cardiac arrest. Droz assisted Garkow by moving the man from behind the wheel to the sidewalk.
“I pushed his chest with my left hand until my partner showed up…” Garkow said. “After the 19th or 20th chest compression he took a deep breath. I did not expect that to happen, at that time I was picturing taking a body report and figured that’s what it was.”
To the relief of both of the officers, the man started breathing regularly.
“I was really shocked,” Garkow said. “It felt incredible.”
“It was pretty neat,” Droz said. “Usually they don’t come back. Dean saved his life and saw the guy come back – it was a good change
The fire department, originally unable to respond because fire units were out on another call, arrived shortly thereafter and continued treating the man. Garkow said that the man “flat-lined” as he was being worked on but was brought back to life by HBFD responders. The man was eventually transported to the hospital, where he made a full recovery.
“It’s a rare occurrence in our line of work,” said Garkow. “You would think it would happen more often, but it’s the first time it’s happened to me and it’s a really good feeling, it really is. I’m thankful I was at the right place at the right time and it wasn’t his time to leave the earth.”
The officers are being awarded for their quick response and action. According the release, their actions exemplify the finest standards of the HBPD. Both officers are credited with saving a man’s life.
“Every once in awhile you get to help people out and do good things that helps out Hermosa Beach,” Droz said.
Visit SouthBayMedalofValor.com for information about additional honorees. ER