Roselle Park members visit woman they saved from near-death experience
By Rosemary An
When Roselle Park Local 27 Members William Hannon, Angelo Marino and
Gregory Polakoski finally worked together again on the day shift in November, a woman they had saved four years ago popped into their heads. Motivated by the opportunity to show their support for the community, especially amid the pandemic, they set out to reconnect with Lisa Guarnaccio.
Polakoski, the Local 27 State Delegate, reached out to the woman’s husband,
Patrick, to set up a surprise visit on Nov. 20 at Robert Gordon Elementary School, where Lisa works. “Of course, I love you guys, I would love to be there as well,” Patrick told Polakoski.
The members reached out to the school to visit Lisa’s classroom, but due
to pandemic restrictions, they settled for surprising Lisa at dismissal. The officers, alongside Patrick and the couple’s two daughters, showed up with a bouquet of flowers for the woman who almost lost her life due to a cardiac arrest four years ago.
“This time of year, usually when her day is coming up, we all remember what
happened and you kind of cross your fingers,” Patrick shared. “We say, ‘We made one year now, let’s keep going’ and now we are on the fourth year and she has been doing pretty well.”
Patrick Guarnaccio woke up to his wife gasping for air at around 2 a.m. on Nov. 20, 2016. Their elder daughter, 26-yearold Brandy, woke up suddenly and went to her parents’ room to find her father administering CPR on her mother.
As Brandy assisted with calling 9-1-1, Amber, 21, walked into the chaos. “She
started freaking out,” Patrick remarked. “Let’s face it, you see your mother on the floor not breathing.”
Marino, who responded to a call about an unknown medical emergency, was
the first to arrive. When Hannon and Polakoski came on the scene, he told them, “This lady is not breathing.”
“The only thing I remember is seeing the look of concern on their faces,” Polakoski recalled.
They rushed upstairs to find Patrick standing over his wife, who was on the
floor and unconscious. The officers took turns administering CPR, but it wasn’t enough.
They set up a defibrillator and shocked her once, but that wasn’t enough.
After a second shock, she started to breathe again.
When someone goes into cardiac arrest, there is a narrow window of eight to
10 minutes before the lack of oxygen to the brain causes serious harm.
“The timing was amazing,” Patrick shared. “You could see the compassion
and humanity of the officers, because they really wanted to revive her.”
After emergency medical personnel arrived and took Lisa to Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, she was put into a medically induced coma. She finally woke up on Nov. 23.
The Guarnaccio family tries not to dwell on the incident. But the couple
remembers the incredible work that Polakoski, Hannon and Marino did for the family.
“They are definitely my angels, and without them I would have missed so
many of the blessings I have today,” Lisa shared. “All of these blessings in the last four years, like having my dream come true of being a teacher, being able to meet my three new grandchildren and being able to wake up and breathe every morning.”
And as someone who thinks about her lifesavers every day, Lisa was ecstatic to see the three members, along with her family, standing outside Robert Gordon Elementary School.
“I did not know who my husband was standing with, and I was like, ‘Who is
calling me by my first name?’ And then I saw Gregory, and on the other corner my family,” Lisa noted. “Them coming here and not forgetting about me, visiting me four years later, was so heartwarming that they care so much.”