Hamilton Police Officer Ernie Huff has spent 28 years in the line of duty. His performance has drawn accolades from the people he works with and from officials at Hamilton High School, where he is a school resource officer.
But all of those people were holding their collective breath in late November when Huff suffered a serious brain injury.
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It was a typical evening for Huff, 58, and his family, according to his wife, Lori, who teaches at Hamilton High School.
“He had come home from work in the evening and everything was fine. He had just picked up our son from basketball practice and then had taken out the trash,” Lori said. “When he came back in the door, he went to step up and his leg didn’t go up and he tripped and fell.”
That was highly unusual, Lori said, “because he’s the most coordinated person I know.”
For the next 30 minutes, Huff became disoriented and said he had no feeling in his right arm.
Lori immediately put him through the stroke protocol.
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“I had him sit down and raise his hands over his head and try to smile on both sides of his face and count backwards from 50,” she said. “He could do everything except count backwards from 50 so I called 911 and the fire department transported him to Fort Hamilton Hospital.”
Less than one hour later, Huff was being flown by Air Care to University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Following 30 hours in the emergency room and several tests, UC neurosurgeon Dr. Mario Zuccarello told Lori that her husband had a very large aneurysm and would need brain surgery.
“The doctor told us he had arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which is a a cluster of blood vessels and arteries that were ready to explode,” she said. “He developed the condition at birth and the doctor said it is like walking around with a loaded gun to your head. We were told that most people just drop dead from the aneurysm and Ernie was lucky they caught it.”
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Ever since the successful surgery, Huff’s prognosis has gotten better.
While he will undergo physical therapy and radiation for several months, “the doctor said it might be possible for him to return to work in January,” Lori said.
Hamilton Police Sgt. Brian Robinson said Huff has been “one of the best men I have had the pleasure of working with. He is loved by his co-workers, family, friends and the public he serves.”
Huff, who has worked for the Hamilton Police Department for 28 years, and his family said they are grateful for the support from the community.
“I can’t say thank you enough to every single person who called, brought food or prayed for us,” Lori said. “The support from the community has been absolutely astounding. Thank you.”
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