Chester County first responders save colleague who suffered heart attack; host welcome home event

Greg Kohlmaier, 72, is recommending everyone learn how to perform CPR.
EAST BRANDYWINE TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- First responders in East Brandywine Township held a welcome home gathering Thursday for one of their colleagues who they helped save after he suffered a heart attack.

"I'm feeling okay, just a little tired. Going through rehab, which has really helped a lot," said East Brandywine volunteer EMS Captain Greg Kohlmaier.

Kohlmaier has gone through a lot in just two weeks.

The 72-year-old went from not breathing at all after a heart attack at home to thanking his work family at East Brandywine Fire Company for helping to save his life.

"It was unbelievable when you see your husband laying there, not breathing. I was screaming his name, calling 911, and unlocking the front door. Then the 911 operator told me to start CPR," said Greg Kohlmaier's wife, Karen Kohlmaier.

Karen did what she could until police and EMS arrived.

The emergency team worked tirelessly to save their coworker on the way to the hospital and eventually got a pulse.

Multiple agencies and healthcare providers played a role, including Minquas EMS, East Brandywine police, and Chester County Hospital.

"By the grace of God, Greg survived with everybody's effort," said East Brandywine Township Fire Marshal Joe Edwards.

Kohlmaier's coworkers said he's a former triathlete who has always been in great shape. They're excited that he's now on the path toward recovery to eventually return to his favorite activities.

He's been volunteering with the fire department for the last decade and won the 2021 Chester County EMT of The Year Award.

Kohlmaier's doctor and nurse also attended the welcome home gathering to celebrate his recovery.

"This is significant," said Darren Girardeau, director of Chester County Hospital's emergency department. "What we do in the hospital really depends on what everybody does before somebody gets to the hospital."

The team effort was key in saving Kohlmaier's life.

"I think that this is truly an astonishing moment to see someone have such a quick turnaround time and to see someone get better so quickly when they were very, very sick a week a two ago. So, it truly warms my heart and honestly makes the job worth it at the end of the day," said RN Paulyn Beggarly at Chester County Hospital's emergency department.

Kohlmaier is recommending everyone learn how to perform CPR. He said you never know -- it just might save someone's life.

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