85-year-old meets firefighter who helped save his life

Jim Bromley, Mike Hipp
Jim Bromley meets Kentwood Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike HIpp, who saved his life at a high school graduation. (June 5, 2017)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It was a moment of celebration that quickly turned into panic.

Jim Bromley, 85, was at Calvin College on May 23 with his family, ready to watch his grandson Ben walk across the stage — a soon-to-be graduate of Forest Hills Northern High School. Just moments before the ceremony began, something went wrong.

“They hadn’t brought the students yet into the arena. My father had a heart attack sitting right next to me,” Brian Bromley, Jim Bromley’s son, told 24 Hour News 8 Monday. “I’m thinking, ‘I’m in shock. Actually, I’m in shock.’”

As luck would have it, a couple of doctors and a nurse were nearby. They started performing CPR within seconds.

Kentwood Battalion Fire Chief Mike Hipp, who was off duty at the time, also happened to be there for his son’s graduation.

“(I) yelled for an AED (automatic external defibrillator). And somebody quickly brought the AED and I just got involved with what was going on,” Hipp told 24 Hour News 8 Monday.

Their work was enough. Paramedics rushed Jim Bromley to the hospital. He survived.

“They saved his life,” Brian Bromley said.

Jim Bromley has spent the past two weeks recovering at the Spectrum Health Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center, where he is scheduled to undergo heart surgery later this week. He said he doesn’t remember any of what happened that day, but wanted the chance to thank the people who saved his life.

24 Hour News 8 was able to arrange a meeting between Bromley and Hipp in the hospital Monday afternoon.

“I owe you my life,” Bromley told Hipp upon meeting him.

Ben Bromley, the new graduate, was also there to say thank you, as was Jim Bromley’s wife, who is perhaps more grateful than anyone.

“How fortunate we feel that you were right there ahead of us at the graduation, because I don’t know what we would’ve done,” Ashley Bromley told Hipp.

“(I’ll) never forget it,” Jim Bromley told Hipp.

The two agreed to meet up again after Bromley undergoes surgery and leaves the hospital.

Hipp, like so many of those who serve his community, doesn’t want to take any credit for what happened.

“That’s my job. I do this every day and I’m proud of what I do and the men that I work with,” Hipp said. “This gentleman’s going to have the opportunity to be with his family for some more time, which is really what this is about.”

Due to scheduling issues, 24 Hour News 8 was unable to arrange a meeting between Bromley and his other three heroes: Dr. Peter Goebel, Dr. Qasim Omran, and registered nurse Melissa Goebel, all of Metro Health.