HOPEWELL Township, New Jersey - Four police officer trainees at the Mercer County Police Academy knew they might someday be called on to save someone's life. They just didn't think it would happen so soon.
Last week, Trenton Police Recruit Chelsea Quinlan, Plainsboro Police Recruit Jeffrey Puckett, and Washington Township Police Recruits Christopher Tremmel and Dallas Overko were at Veterans Park in Hamilton Township playing street hockey when a 70-year-old stranger asked to join the game.
Things then went well for a couple minutes, then trouble.
"He was breathing heavy, taking deep breaths and in a lot of distress," Quinlan said. "So we knew we had to jump into action right away."
"He stops breathing, so we put him on his back," Overko said. "Puckett feels for a pulse. I feel for a pulse. We're like 'oh man, he's got no pulse,' and we immediately started compressions."
While two of the recruits called 911 and guided first responders to the scene, the other two switched off performing CPR.
"I was on the phone with dispatch," Tremmel said. "I informed her that he told us that he had previous heart conditions."
"When I got tired, Overko took over for me," Puckett said. "He did some more cycles and that's when EMS started to arrive."
Officials say the man is still hospitalized, but he's alive thanks to the quick response of the recruits.
"It's what we train for, and obviously it was put into motion," Police Academy Director Marty Masseroni said. "It was real time, real life."
"I can remember thinking that was probably the longest 10 minutes of my life," Puckett said.
"It's what we signed up to do," Overko said. "This is why we wanted to be police officers, to save lives and help people. I feel great. I'm sure these guys do, as well."
The hero recruits are due to graduate from the Academy later this month to start their careers at their individual departments, and now they've got an impressive life-saving effort already under their belts.