911 Lifesaver Awards presented

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Sheriff's Office • 100 North Fifth Avenue West • Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: (218) 726-2340 • www.stlouiscountymn.gov

Ross Litman

Date: April 11, 2017

Media Contact: Sheriff Ross Litman
(218) 726-2340

Sheriff presents 911 Life Saver Awards for seven incidents

St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman recognized the life saving responses of citizens, law enforcement, fire fighters, paramedics, first responders and 911 emergency communications specialists, and highlighted the way they worked together while presenting Life Saver awards at today's County Board meeting.

The awards are given each year as part of National Telecommunicator's Week.

Sheriff Ross Litman's comments about each incident are listed below. Click on any of the images for a larger version.

Life Saver awards
At today's County Board meeting, St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman presented Life Saver Awards for seven separate incidents that occured during 2016.

Narcan1 lifesaver awards
Shown L-R: Fond du Lac Police Officer Kelly Hatfield, FDL Tribal Council Representative Bruce Savage, FDL Officer Christopher Durfee, Sheriff Ross Litman, Deputy Roger Smith and FDL Tribal Council Chair Kevin DuPuis. Not pictured: Emergency Communications Specialist Heath Barnes.

On June 17, 2016, 9-1-1 received a call from the Fond du Lac Reservation area reporting an unresponsive, but breathing 24 year old male – then the call was lost.  Emergency Communication Specialist, Heather Barnes, immediately called the reporting party back and was told he was no longer breathing and was turning blue.  Heather began giving life-saving medical instructions to the caller. The caller let Heather know he had taken some kind of drug. This critical information was relayed to the responding officers. 

Fond du Lac Officers Kelly Hatfield and Christopher Durfee arrived on scene to find the male still unresponsive.  They immediately began CPR.  A short time later, Deputy Roger Smith arrived on scene and administered two 4 mg intranasal doses of NARCAN, 5 minutes apart.  After the second dose was given, the victim regained consciousness and was able to walk to the ambulance to be transported to Cloquet hospital.  

Without the quick-thinking, life-saving actions of these individuals, he might not have survived.

This was the first use of NARCAN by the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.  

Front row L-R: aramedics Zach Yurczyk, First Responders Keith Nyman and Julie Nyman. Back row: Deputies Erik Johnson and Chad Larson, Emergency Communications Specialist Jacob Lassila, Deputy Chris Schafer, Sheriff Ross Litman and Paramedic Dan Cerise.

On February 4, 2016, a 9-1-1 call was received from the Mt. Iron area reporting a 33 year old male not breathing and had possibly overdosed on heroin.  Emergency Communication Specialist, Jacob Lassila, took the 9-1-1 call and immediately began giving the caller CPR instruction.  

Deputies Erik Johnson and Chad Larson were the first to arrive on scene.  They found the male upstairs, lying on his back next to his bed; his face was bluish-purple and he was completely unresponsive.  Deputy Johnson began chest compressions while Deputy Larson worked diligently to find the cause of the male’s condition.  The cause was as suspected as a needle was found near where he was laying.  Soon after, Deputy Chris Schafer arrived and took over chest compressions.  Deputy Josh Berndt, along with Mt. Iron First Responders Keith and Julie Nyman, then arrived to assist. 

When Paramedics Dan Cerise and Zachary Yurczyk arrived, they administered 2 shots of intranasal NARCAN.  The patient then woke up and began talking to the responders.  Amazingly, he was able to safely walk down the stairs to the ambulance and be transported to Virginia hospital.  

Without the heroic actions of all of these individuals, he might not be alive today.


Emergency Commuications Specialist Lon Hanson, Deputy Jeremy Belleville and Sheriff Ross Litman are shown with Belleville's son Connor.

On August 8, 2016, 9-1-1 received a call from the Mt. Iron area of a 31 year old female who had overdosed on heroin.  Emergency Communication Specialist, Lon Hanson, immediately began giving critical CPR instructions to the caller. 

Upon arrival, Deputy Jeremy Belleville found the female unresponsive and turning blue.   He administered one 4mg dose of NARCAN into the female’s nose and a few seconds later, she began to breathe and the color returned to her face.  Her pulse was weak, but present, and a short time later, she was able to sit up and eventually start talking.  She was then safely transported by ambulance to the hospital.  Deputy Belleville also ensured the safety and well-being of 2 children, ages 9 and 12, who were present.  

Without the immediate actions of Lon and Deputy Belleville, she likely would not have survived.

All three of these incidents involved overdoses of heroin.  Without the quick actions of emergency responders, these three people might not be alive today.  There have been similar cases, but the outcome was not as fortunate as all of the individuals did not survive.

All Deputies within the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office now carry NARCAN.

Beau Foix, John Marcella and Sheriff Ross Litman

In the early morning hours of October 2, 2016, Cody Hermann, Beau Foix and John Marcella were preparing to go duck hunting.  The three drove to the West Two Rivers area where they launched their boat into the water.  After launching, John and Beau returned to their trucks while Cody stayed on the dock.  A short time later, John heard a splash in the water.  He and Beau returned to the dock and observed Cody floating face down in the water.   Beau removed his hip waders and jumped in the water.  Although Cody’s waders were filling with water, Beau and John were able to pull Cody out of the water.  Once out of the water, Cody remained motionless.   John then called 9-1-1 while Beau performed chest compressions.  Eventually, Cody began to breathe again, but was disoriented.  The Virginia Ambulance crew arrived and transported Cody to the Essentia Health Emergency Room.

Without the quick actions of his friends, Beau and John, Cody might not be with us today.

Heart Attack1
Shown L-R: Emergency Communications Specialist Carmen Kimball, Hermantown Firefighters Jamie Lapage and Patrick Albrecht, Hermantown Police Officer Jon Enright, Sheriff Ross Litman, and Michele and Michael Mihalik and their daughters.

On April 14, 2016, around 12:30 a.m., 9-1-1 dispatcher, Carmen Kimball, received an emergency call from Michele Mihalik reporting her husband, Michael, was having chest pains and difficulty breathing.  After a short time, Michele informed Carmen her husband was now breathing slowly and turning blue and that her husband stopped breathing.  Carmen instructed Michele how to perform CPR on Michael until emergency personnel arrived.    

Hermantown Volunteer Fire Department personnel arrived on scene and found that Michael had no pulse and was not breathing.  Firefighter Katie Sandstrom continued performing CPR on Michael and Hermantown Police Officer Jon Enright provided an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).  After using the AED and continuous CPR, Michael developed a pulse, a heartbeat and began breathing on his own.  Firefighters Patrick Albrecht, Jamie Lapage, Joe Tarnowski and David Joyal assisted Firefighter Sandstrom and Officer Enright.  

Without the immediate life-saving actions of all involved, Michael may not be with us today!

Heart Attack2
Sheriff Ross Litman, Steve Roskoski, and paramedics Frank Roark and David McClellan (shown holding his daughter)

On June 3, 2016, 9-1-1 was called for an emergency transfer of a male patient having a heart attack and needing transport from the Virginia Regional Medical Center to St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth.  Steve Roskoski had been admitted to the ER earlier that morning, complaining of chest pain.  During his ER visit, Steve was found to have an abnormal electrocardiogram.  Steve was treated with medication and given a nitro drip.  Also during the ER visit, Steve was defibrillated twice.  He was stabilized at the hospital prior to transport. 

Paramedics Frank Roark and David McClellen were assigned to transport Steve to St. Mary’s Hospital.  While on the way to St. Mary’s, Steve became nauseated and complained of increased chest pressure.  Steve was given medication and his nitro drip was increased.  His heart rhythm soon deteriorated.  Frank and David jumped into action performing lifesaving measures and defibrillated him 9 times!  Steve converted to a normal sinus rhythm and remained that way for the rest of the transport.  At that point, he was able to tell Frank and David his chest pain and pressure had decreased.   His only complaint, at this time, was that he was very tired.  His vitals remained stable and he was able to speak with Frank and David during the rest of the transport.  

To be shocked 9 times and survive is truly unheard of!  Without Frank and David, their dedication to their profession and their Advanced Life Support training, Steve would likely not be here today!

(No photo available, as Emergency Communication Specialist Thomas Cusick was unable to attend.)

On November 26, 2016, Emergency Communication Specialist, Thomas Cusick, took a 9-1-1 call from a 13 year old Proctor girl reporting that her step-dad was drunk, armed with a gun and that he had pointed it at her mother.  As the young caller was giving Tom her address and telling him she was outside with her 11 year old brother, a shot was heard from inside the residence.  Tom immediately ordered the now very distraught young girl to make sure she had her little brother with her, and to get as far away from the house as possible. 

As Tom continued to ensure that the children were moving safely away from the house and that they were together, he verbally alerted his fellow dispatchers to the situation and entered the call.  He also continued to gather further information from the child to assist the responding law enforcement officers. 

 After the step-father fired rounds in the house, and nineteen (19) rounds at a pickup truck parked in the driveway of the home, he  left the residence on foot, and began firing randomly and threatening others in the neighborhood.  He was later apprehended by Deputy Ben Fye and his K-9 partner Diesel.

Tom’s fierce determination to protect the two children and the entire Proctor community was evident by way of his calm and controlled demeanor. Tom also exhibited outstanding job knowledge and an ability to multitask during a volatile and rapidly evolving situation. 

Tom has proven that he truly is an asset to the community we serve and an outstanding example of the Emergency Communications profession.