SWANTON - When Swanton police officer Dominic LoFiego received a radio call about an unresponsive male at a central Swanton residence last week, seconds counted.
Officer LoFiego happened to be patrolling very close by to the 112 Chestnut St. house from which the 911 call had come and responded immediately.
Inside one of the bedrooms was a 30-year-old man who had swallowed his tongue after an apparent drug overdose, had stopped breathing, and had no pulse.
"He was pretty critical," the officer recalled several days later. "I could tell by the color of his skin he was in pretty tough shape."
But during the five to seven minutes it took for Swanton Rescue to reach the scene, Officer LoFiego had cleared the man's airway and restored his respiration and pulse with rescue breathing and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
Fire Chief James Guy said it is quite likely that the man would have died without Officer LoFiego's quick and proper response, and for that, Police Chief Gary Lyons said he plans to recommend to village leaders that the officer be awarded a life-saving commendation.
"He definitely helped the situation. I think he did a good job," Chief Guy said. "The police officer definitely made it possible for our interventions to work."
The EMS "interventions" included administering an anti-narcotic remedy that restored the man to consciousness before he was taken to a Toledo-area hospital by medical helicopter.
The officer said that while his intervention was certainly critical to keeping the patient alive long enough for medical rescue, the EMS role also was essential.
"Without them there, he'd be a goner," Officer LoFiego said. "Swanton Fire and Rescue are the real angels. I was just doing what I had to do until the real professionals got there."
Chief Lyons declined to identify the patient because it is possible he will face drug charges, depending on the outcome of toxicology tests and other evidence that will be reviewed by the Fulton County prosecutor's office after it is turned over to the office.
Officer LoFiego, who just had joined the Swanton police force in February after he had been laid off from the Lucas County Sheriff's Office last fall, said that while his training had included life-saving techniques for situations like this one, the actual life-saving experience is one he'll never forget.
"It's something you don't really plan on having to do. It's very humbling," Officer LoFiego said.
"But it's a positive thing. This job is often so negative, it's good to be on the other side for once," the officer added.
And the officer said it doesn't matter to him that the man he saved may have gotten into his predicament because of illicit drug use.
"I don't know this guy," Officer LoFiego said. "Maybe this situation is going to turn his life around.
"That's what I hope, that it will be a wake-up call for everyone around," Officer LoFiego said.