There is another side to law enforcement.
As first responders, law enforcement officers are trained to save lives and it is that training that saved the
life of a Holmes Beach man Nov. 8, 2012.
“We were dispatched to a possible overdose,” said Holmes Beach Police Officer Joshua Fleischer, who
responded to the call with another officer. “I arrived first and ran into the house and observed a man lying on the bed.”
Fleischer said the man wasn’t breathing and he wasturning blue.
“I grabbed my CPR mask and (automated external defibrillator) and hooked it up to him,” he said. “As soon
as I did, it sounded like he was gasping for air. At that time, I tilted his head back to clear his airway and he took a huge gasp of air.”
Fleischer left the AED hooked up to the man because “you just never know what can happen at that point. He
could be breathing, but could still go at any minute. I just held his head back until EMS arrived and they took over from there.”
His heroic actions earned him the Congressional Law Enforcement Preserver of Life Award, which he
will receive May 13, at the Sarasota County Commission chambers, 1660 Ringling Blvd.
While his actions are heroic, Fleischer is visibly uncomfortable with the word “hero.”
“Anyone else would have done the same thing in that situation,” he said. “You don’t think, you react. That’s our job, and that’s what we get paid to do.”
Fleischer said he is honored to receive the recognition.
He started on the Holmes Beach police reserves in 2009 and became a full-time police officer in January 2010, after serving six years with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. “Law enforcement is just something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.
In 2005, Fleischer was named Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy of the Year for saving the life of a
child. The boy had wandered into a canal and was on the verge of drowning when Fleischer arrived.
“I was flagged down by a kid who was screaming that his brother was drowning,” said Fleischer. “I ran into
the backyard and all I could see were bubbles coming up from the canal. I jumped in, found him and pulled him out.”
A U.S. Navy veteran lived next door and saw the commotion and he and Fleischer successfully initiated CPR. The boy fully recovered.
Fleischer credits his training for the November lifesaving event.
“The thing we are taught more than CPR is the AED, because the AED will save your life,” he said.
The man was wide-awake by the time he arrived at the hospital and made a full recovery.
“You rely on your training in situations like that,” said Fleischer. “We get paid to make those split second
decisions, so the training is important.” CPR procedures have continuously evolved over the
past several years. While Fleischer is fully certified, he continues to sit in on CPR classes when the instructor is in Holmes Beach.
Fleischer’s actions also led former acting Chief of Police Dale Stephenson to nominate him for the 2012
Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. The winner of that award will be announced May 13.
In a February nomination letter, Stephenson wrote,