Thank you, lifesavers

Fredonia man continues to show his gratitude to fire department members who came to his rescue

TROY BRETL held a cake during an appreciation dinner for members of the Fredonia Fire Department on Tuesday, June 12. Bretl survived a heart attack 10 years ago and credits the first responders with saving his life. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

Ten years ago, Troy Bretl suffered a near-fatal heart attack at his home, surviving when members of Fredonia’s Fire Department responded quickly to a call for help.

“They were there within four minutes and started performing CPR,” Bretl said.

“I suffered the widow maker, which is sudden arrhythmic death syndrome. Without their response, there’s no doubt that I would be dead.”

One month after he was released from the hospital, Bretl wanted to show his appreciation to the volunteers who saved his life. He said he couldn’t think of a better way of saying thanks than by feeding them. 

“I owe them everything because they were a big part of me being alive,” he said.

“A nice meal is something where strangers can bond together and become friends.”

Since that first dinner, Bretl has hosted several meals at the Fredonia fire station, which is less than a half-mile from his house.

On June 12, Bretl and his wife Bridget brought in 20 pounds of pulled pork from Mr. Tony’s BBQ, cheesy potatoes, coleslaw and cake for more than 40 department members to enjoy after their monthly meeting.

“In the past, we always held the dinner on the second Tuesday in June because that coincides shortly after my heart attack,” Bretl said, noting the anniversary of his heart attack is May 30. 

Bretl has also showed his appreciation to the fire department in the past by donating a defibrillator for an ambulance and attending fundraising events.

“My wife and I always try to support them whenever they have their brat fries, too,” he said.

The 59-year-old Bretl said local volunteer firefighters don’t get the credit they deserve because they risk their lives to save others without receiving much compensation.

“I want individuals to have a much stronger appreciation for our first responders who are not getting paid much to risk their lives for us,” Bretl said.

“If everyone paused for a second to think where they would be if they had a medical emergency or their house started on fire or their child got in an accident — it is pretty eye opening. 

“There are over 100 scenarios these people train for. They do everything because they want to serve others.”

Today, Bretl says his heart feels like new, and he wants to continue his mission of thanking those who saved his life.

“Once you depend on those individuals, you have a stronger appreciation for the work they do,” he said.

“Our communities need more and more people like them. They are the angels who get up in the middle of the night to save our lives. Serving them a meal is the least I can do after they helped me.”



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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