BOTKINS — The afternoon of Sept. 21 had been occupied by watching the Michigan versus Wisconsin football game when Bryan Esser, 58, stood up from his chair in the living room and collapsed face-down on the floor.
“Mom started yelling at him, and there was no response, and I just told Mom, ‘I’m dialing 911.’ I handed her the phone because, I’m not going to lie, it felt like the longest 30 seconds of my life when I dialed that. I flipped him over, and his eyes were turning all bloodshot,” Kevin Esser, 27, said.
Having to act quickly, Kevin was put back on the phone with 911 operators while his mother ushered their two dogs into the other room. Despite the fact that Kevin, at the time, didn’t know CPR, the operators talked him through the basics, and he began to administer CPR on his father. The efforts he made were instrumental in saving Bryan’s life – something Kevin and members of Botkins Fire Department and Anna Rescue Squad were honored for by Wilson Health on Monday at Botkins Local Schools.
“Kevin did something that no son wants to do, or even witness be done, but nevertheless did what was needed. Because of his quick actions, he started a chain of care that ended with a life preserved by quick CPR and activation of 911 system. Due to his quick actions, Bryan was given a new lease on life and is still with us today,” Chief of Anna Rescue David Klopfenstein said.
Bryan, who had gone into cardiac arrest, was on bed rest for two weeks before going through the recovery process, which included cardiac rehab and routine walks, starting with walking around his block in Botkins and slowly making those walks longer. He now has a pacemaker and implantable cardioverter defibrillator. He hopes to return to his job as regional purchasing manager at Ashland Chemical sometime in mid-December.
“I appreciate every day from the bottom of my heart, as broken as it may be. A person, I won’t mention her name, said, ‘It takes a village.’ It really does. This village has come through, time and time again, to help me, to help my family, in any way and every way possible,” Bryan said. “I’m not usually at a loss for words, but this is just a wonderful community.”
“The village” includes neighbors and community members who have rallied around the Esser family, helping out with meals, rides to appointments and supporting them through Bryan’s recovery.
Also honored were Botkins Police Chief Tom Glass, Botkins Fire Chief Pat Fullenkamp, member of Botkins Fire Gabe Lawrence and members of Anna Rescue Tabitha Kill, Cliff Damron and Karen Weinstock.
“There’s part of me, at times, that thinks, ‘You don’t have a right to be here.’ But the other side is, ‘Well, I’m here.’ So I get to see, possibly grandkids, or my youngest get married,” Bryan said. “You really don’t think about it too much because you’ll go crazy. We must have had a conversation with the guy upstairs, and he said, ‘You’re going back.’”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.