Beyond the Badge: Pulaski County deputies, dispatchers, correctional officers receive life-saving awards
PULASKI COUNTY, Ind. -- Police officers aren’t called out to everybody’s best day and, in some cases, they’re responding to life-or-death situations.
This week on Beyond the Badge, a group of deputies, dispatchers and correctional officers are being honored with life-saving awards in Pulaski County.
“In that moment, we're not thinking about awards or anything of that nature. It's just, we have a job to do; we've got a life to save, and we got to get to it," Deputy Matt Scott said.
“It's very routine for us, but you don't realize that that routine, day-to-day life for us, how much of an effect that has on somebody else's life,” Deputy Seth Barton said.
To the deputies, dispatchers and correctional officers, it’s just part of the job, but for people in the community at their very worst, it’s a matter of life-or-death.
“I do not think that people in any kind of first responder situation are recognized enough for the things that they do,” Barton said. “There are many actions that we do. Many tasks that we do day-to-day on the job, they become very routine for us. And I don't feel that they get recognized very well. And the community doesn't really know that we do these things because nobody knows that we have these calls that we go to or what we've actually responded to. The community has a disconnect between what we actually do most of the time day-to-day on the road, versus what the dispatchers do with the amount of calls they receive or their calls they handle, or the corrections officers...the amount of tasks that they're tasked with just maintaining order discipline inside of a jail facility.”
“Especially with dispatchers, a lot of the times they're not seen,” 911 Director Marie Roth said. “No one ever really knows who's behind that phone. And they do a lot of important work and helping ensure that officers get where they need to be and that they're safe while doing that.”
“There was a gentleman who got caught in a snowstorm on his way home from work one evening, and he thought he would walk home; his truck broke down,” Roth said. “It turned out while he was out there, he got turned around and was lost in a field.”
“And it was bad enough that when the roads started blowing shut, they were completely invisible,” Barton recalled. “There was just nothing but snow.”
Even with a thermal device to try to find his heat signature, the snow and cold had iced over his clothes.
“It was hard to even locate him with that,” Barton said.
“From my prior experience with working in dispatch here at Pulaski County, I asked them if they had a good triangulation on a cell phone and they said they did,” Scott said. “So, since our vehicles have GPS, I told them to have me stop when I was directly north of his GPS position.”
“They were able to track him up to the minute and let officers know where he was and be able to keep him alert on the phone until they were able to get there and help him,” Roth said.
“Snow was probably about knee deep at that point,” Scott said. “Now that we found him, he was still talking to us. So, it's like okay, well, that's good. But now we're worried about hypothermia and how fast they can set in.”
Thanks to the dispatchers behind the scenes, they were able to find the man in about three minutes, saving his life that night.
“It's a good handful times every month that somebody’s administering Narcan to somebody to save their life,” Barton said.
Matt Scott was awarded for multiple incidents where we initiated life-saving measures during an overdose.
“I was first to get on scene being two blocks away, I immediately noticed that he had the signs of overdose,” Scott said. “He was not breathing at the time I could barely feel a pulse and he was actually already turning blue. I administered both Narcan doses that I had.”
By that time, first responders got on scene and the man started responding.
“He had fentanyl in his pocket,” Scott said. “And he thought it was just heroin and it was just straight fentanyl and that's why he actually overdosed very quickly. With fentanyl overdoses, they occur very rapidly. And it takes effect on the body of, you know, stop breathing, their heart stops beating and then it's four to five minutes and you're essentially brain dead. We can't get you back after that, most of the time.”
“While we respond to these overdoses very frequently, people don't realize the severity that if the deputy or whoever didn't administer the Narcan, nothing else on the medical side would have worked to bring that person out of that state of overdose, in which case they would have died, had the deputy not had the proper training, and recognize what you need to do to resolve the situation,” Barton explained.
Back in November, Matt and his partner, Alec Berger, were called out to an overdose.
“Immediately actually noticed the person overdosing because this was the fifth time that he's overdosed, and we brought him back,” Scott said. “He was actually not breathing, we were having trouble finding a pulse at that point. So we're actually losing him. We weren't sure if we were actually going to get him back. Thankfully, we did. We ended up administering, I think, three doses of Narcan.”
It’s often the same people in the community overdosing and it’s happening frequently.
“If it's five times a month in a community of 13,000 people we have a problem,” Barton said.
“Some of the time they're actually mad at us for taking away their high because that Narcan blocks those receptors from the heroin and the opiates, so their high is taken away immediately,” Scott explained.
“We continue to try to give good advice and life advice and do what we can to give resources to these same victims,” Barton said. “But ultimately it’s a choice they have to make for themselves on whether they're going to get off the opiates or not. When we get sent to these calls, it is generally somebody's worst day and we're generally responding because somebody needs help solving some problem, no matter what that problem is.”
“You're trying to be that rock for them in their most emotional time,” Scott said.
“Lives are being saved, whether that was something that dispatchers had done, whether that was something that the jail staff had done, whether that was something that a road deputy has done, lives are being saved and lives are being positively affected during these incidents,” Barton said. "Continue to trust us, continue to help us, continue to call us.”