Hamilton Police Officer Ernie Huff was back at work Monday at Hamilton High School, where he serves as the school’s resource officer.
Last November, Huff suffered a serious brain injury and nearly lost his life. His return on Monday was a celebrated event.
Here are five things to know about Huff’s return, and why it was special for the Hamilton community:
1. The night he became ill everything seemed normal
“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,” said his wife, Lori. “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. Less than one hour later, Huff was being flown by Air Care to University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
2. His diagnosis was serious and a surprise to the family
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 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.”
3. Doctors predicted a return in January after the diagnosis
“The doctor said it might be possible for him to return to work in January,” Lori said.
4. Students, staff and parents welcomed Huff back on Monday
Balloons, high-fives and plenty of “welcome backs” were in store for Huff, 58, on Monday as he greeted students in the halls of the high school.
“I was like, ‘He’s really here and back,’” said Adriana Hernandez, a senior. “It’s really great to have him back here.”
5. Huff was thankful to receive the warm welcome and also for the support of the community
“The community, the churches, the school system and the police all sent me prayers it was awesome,” he said. “It is just awesome. God is good.”