As a 25-year veteran of the police force in suburban Philadelphia, Kevin Lawler is trained to remain calm during an emergency. Even when the emergency is his own.

He and his wife Karen, a nurse, were watching a funny movie on television one evening in April 2003, when Kevin started having chest pains. “I was laughing so hard, and then I started feeling pains in my chest.”

He was taken to the local hospital, where he was given medication to relieve the pain. A heart catheterization the next day revealed blocked arteries, and Kevin was scheduled for coronary artery bypass surgery.

“I was scared when the doctor first told me I would need to have open-heart surgery. But then I found out that he would do a type of surgery called off-pump or beating heart bypass, without hooking me up to a heart-lung machine. That meant my heart would be beating on its own during the whole operation. A guy I work with has been through both on-pump and off-pump operations. He told me that off-pump was definitely the way to go.”

“After having the surgery I would recommend off-pump to anyone. Just two weeks later I felt like a million bucks. I’ve had none of the side effects you can get with on-pump operations things like memory lapses.”

“And Karen was pretty impressed by the one-inch incision in my thigh, where my vein was harvested. I had a procedure called EVH, or endoscopic vein harvesting, which doesn’t require a large incision. As a home health nurse, Karen sees a lot of very painful, full-length incisions after bypass operations. And those bigger incisions take so much longer to heal.”

Six weeks later Kevin returned to work at the police department, opting for a desk job. He also returned to his second job as an assistant at a funeral home.

When he retires from his police job he and Karen, their two dogs and a parrot plan to travel to the West Coast by RV. Kevin is also passionate about a more old-fashioned type of travel. He has sailed six times on the tall ship Rose featured in the movie “Master and Commander.” He learned to sail the Rose when it was a training ship in Connecticut.

When he’s closer to home the father of two, grandfather of one, stepfather of two and step-grandfather of four, clearly relishes the time he spends with his family. “One of my step-grandchildren was born two days after I came home from the hospital. And my first biological grandchild was born a few months later. I get a little misty-eyed when I think about being able to watch them grow up.”

“I’m going to get to bounce these grandkids on my knee and play with them in the backyard. I’m in my fifties now, and I’m going to be around for a long time.

“Two weeks after my surgery I went to see my primary care doctor. When I walked in he asked me when I was going to have my bypass surgery. I told him I’d had it two weeks earlier. He could hardly believe it, because I looked so good. I feel like I really hit a home run with this surgery.”