SOMERSET – Kevin Huzsek knew that one day he would become a police officer.
After many years working in emergency services, he joined the Somerset Police Department.
“Law enforcement has always been a passion of mine,” he said. “When the years started building up as a paramedic, it was time for a change.”
Huzsek was 16 years old when he enrolled in a first-responder class. After graduating from Shade High School in 1992, he entered paramedic school. He was a member of the Stoystown Volunteer Fire Department and Boswell EMS.
A paramedic for 29 years, including 22 years with Somerset Ambulance, Huzsek graduated from the Johnstown Police Academy and was hired as a part-time patrolman eight years ago.
He is now the department’s CPR and first-aid instructor – a job for which he is well-qualified.
“He’s done a lot of innovative training,” Somerset police Chief Randy Cox said.
“The medical training the officers are getting is way beyond basic first aid.”
Huzsek said he “thinks outside the box” when teaching officers.
With donations from the Somerset Fraternal Order of Eagles 1801, the department bought six $300 medical bags for police cruisers and two $2,500 automatic external defibrillators.
Huzsek and Officer Brett Stanga, who also is a paramedic, are training the officers on using the equipment. The bag includes instruments to clear the airways of unresponsive patients, including overdose victims.
“That’s one less task that EMS has to perform,” Huzsek said.
Bags also contain valve masks used to help people breathe, military-tested tourniquets, Narcan and bandages.
Huzsek and Stanga each carry ARS decompression devices in case there is a need to treat a collapsed lung.
“The needle is inserted into the chest to allow the lung to expand,” Huzsek said. “It will allow you to breathe again and increase your chances of survival.
“You can’t just just put a Band-Aid on a wound,” he said. “You may get into something more extensive.”
Huzsek said that drug abuse is prevalent even in small communities such as Somerset.
He works the streets gathering information, executing search warrants and arresting drug dealers.
“I would say the police department, as a whole, has taken a considerable amount of drugs off the streets,” Huzsek said. “We do a good job, along with the state police and the attorney general’s office.
Like many other first responders in Somerset County, Huzsek responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
A crew from Somerset Ambulance was the first unit to arrive in Shanksville, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field, killing 33 passengers, seven crew members and four hijackers. Flight 93 was one of four passenger airliners hijacked that day by Islamic terrorists.
“From the size of the crater, we knew it was a large plane but there wasn’t much left,” he said.
“Money was blowing around, personal effects, shoes, clothing. There was part of the fuselage, two big tires, bent seats and we found a Bible.”
Multiple fire and EMS units and state police flocked to the crash site. FBI field agents from Pittsburgh arrived within hours, he said.
“It was then we learned the plane was taken down by an act of terrorism, Huzsek said. “It’s something that you’re not going to forget.”