LIVINGSTON, NJ — Three shocks of a defibrillator made the difference between life and death for 67-year-old Brendan Devlin when he collapsed during Christmas Eve Mass at Saint Philomena Church in Livingston.
Off-duty Police Officer Kevin Mullaney and off-duty Livingston Firefighter John Durish rushed to Devlin’s aid as Reverend Monsignor Robert J. Fuhrman called 911. At about 8:50 p.m., Mullaney and Durish began giving CPR to Devlin, who reportedly had no pulse and was unconscious, until the church’s defibrillator was retrieved.
Pastor Fuhrman said that many others rushed to Devlin’s aid, including a cardiologist Dr John Fernandes who was on site at the time. According to Pastor Fuhrman, Devlin regained consciousness after three shocks, was breathing, and acknowledged that he was all right by nodding his head “yes.”
“I was very touched and impressed by the number of people who took action,” said Pastor Fuhrman. “By the time I hung up the phone from calling 911, they were deep into CPR already. The defibrillator that we keep in the church was used very effectively and that’s what brought him back to life.”
According to police, Livingston First Aid Squad arrived to assist at the scene and transported Devlin to Saint Barnabas Medical Center with paramedics on board. Devlin, who was volunteering to distribute Holy Communion on Christmas Eve, was in stable condition later on that night, but has since been released and is doing well, according to Pastor Fuhrman.
“He woke up, was able to speak and was breathing on his own and that was a great relief not only to me, but to everybody,” said Pastor Fuhrman. “This experience was very upsetting to many in the parish and in the church at the time.”
Durish said later that this was the first time he had ever administered CPR with a successful outcome and was grateful that the man responded.