CORAL GABLES, FLA. (WSVN) - Coral Gables’ police chief shared a testimony and a story of survival, months after he faced a life-threatening medical emergency.

A stroke took Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak from serving the community to a hospital bed.

“When you are living in the golden hour, you realize how much of a real deal that is,” he said.

Sunday was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and Hudak, who was back on his feet, took the opportunity to praise the frontline heroes who helped save his life.

At age 60, Hudak suffered a stroke back in July. He said his wife and daughter insisted that he seek help, and he was rushed to Baptist Health.

“My symptoms really kind of came on literally while I was driving, and when I got home, I realized that when I tried to say something, I couldn’t talk,” he said.

With the help of Baptist Health’s Miami Neuroscience Institute, the chief faced a fast recovery.

“We were able to act fast. He got the thrombolytic as soon as possible, and then we proceeded with more imaging, and he was then admitted,” said Nina Cruz, the coordinator of the Baptist Health Care Stroke Program. “We found out the cause of the stroke was what we call a PFO, which is a hole in your heart.”

“I felt great. Six days after, I left the hospital, and my checkups have all been good,” said Hudak.

Hudak can be seen frequently on the sidelines of the University of Miami’s Hurricanes football games, where he mentors athletes and serves as a security advisor.

The chief shared his concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as he continues his efforts to protect his own force.

“COVID has killed more police officers in this country in the last two years than gunfights, car accidents and suicides combined,” he said.

And he can’t force a vaccine.

“Not mandating it is difficult, so the advice I gave them was, ‘Do you have a living will?’ And they’re like, ‘No.’ I was like, ‘You need to have a living will ready, because if you get [COVID], and you’re not vaccinated, you could very well be dead in three days,'” he said.

Hudak also sent a signal when protests and destruction erupted nationwide over the police-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He gathered local police chiefs to take a knee with protesters in his city.

“My job kicks then in to make sure that my people are following the rules that we have in place, and I think, in South Florida law enforcement, we do an unbelievable job dealing with those issues,” he said.

Hudak also acknowledged law enforcement on the front lines of difficult situations, like the deadly riot that overtook the U.S. Capitol in Jan. 6, 2021.

“There are a lot of cops who went to work that morning and had no idea what was going to be happening and kind of really held the line,” he said.

Hudak, who has since returned to the sidelines of the ‘Canes, now has a new group of fans cheering him on.

“When we see Chief Hudak on the sidelines at a UM football game, cheering and screaming, it brings us great joy,” said Cruz.

On this Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, Hudak expressed his thanks to those who helped save his life.

“I am humbled by all of you, because I wouldn’t be able to do any of this and be with my family if it wasn’t for the work that all of you do every day,” he said.

Cruz said it’s important to know the signs of a stroke and to always act within that golden hour. She advised anyone who sees someone slurring, experiencing sudden confusion, numbness or drooping on one side of their face to call an ambulance. That way, paramedics can start coordinating with a hospital to get help fast.

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