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Friday, June 21, 2024

When Henri Belleville became a University Police officer, he knew he’d be expected to help his fellow fallen officers. But he didn’t expect that would be in a fitness center.

He didn’t know he’d get an award for what he was about to do.

But on Thursday morning, he stood in front of the mayor, the city manager, his own police chief and about 50 other people who were there to thank him for his part in saving Gainesville Police Department Maj. Rick Hanna’s life.

“I don’t think we could be any more proud of him,” said Linda Stump, UPD police chief. “He was called off-duty and he didn’t hesitate.”

It was a Saturday — his day off. Belleville and his wife had just walked in the door of Gainesville Health and Fitness Center when they watched David Mitchell, one of the employees, punch through a glass case on a nearby wall, pull out the automated external defibrillator and dash to the gym. He rounded the corner and saw Hanna lying on the floor surrounded by five people taking turns at chest compressions.

Twenty minutes earlier, Hanna was on the Stairmaster. His heart rate was cruising around 180 beats per minute when it raced to 200 bpm. It caused an electrode in his brain to misfire, shutting off his heart, said his wife, Marlene Hanna.

Around 11:30 a.m., Jan. 22, Rick Hanna’s heart stopped beating. Marlene Hanna and other employees took turns doing CPR compressions and shocked Rick Hanna once before the ambulance got there.

A half hour later, Rick Hanna came to in North Florida Regional Medical Center with a busted lip from the fall, but otherwise unharmed. He’s been at home recovering since.

At the ceremony Thursday, other officers gathered around Belleville, Mitchell and the other employees who helped Hanna for handshakes, hugs and pats on the back.

Belleville said the fact that Hanna is a fellow police officer wouldn’t have changed a thing.

“It didn’t matter who he was,” Belleville said. “They were not going to die in that gym.”

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