Public Safety

Seven Linn County deputies honored with Life Saving Award

Quick thinking save five lives in 2018

Linn County Deputy Sheriff badge. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Linn County Deputy Sheriff badge. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office recently recognized seven deputies whose actions and quick thinking in life-or-death situations aided in saving the lives of five people in 2018.

Sheriff Brian Gardner said Sgt. Heather O’Brien, deputy Jim Tindal, Capt. Greg McGivern, deputy-paramedic Ben Brink, deputy Todd Egli, deputy-paramedic Tythe VanWeelden and deputy Tim Daubs were each awarded a Life Saving Award.

“It’s important to recognize our employees’ accomplishments, and obviously saving a life is a big deal — there’s no doubt about that,” Gardner said. “These deputies took training to heart ... and they did not hesitate to jump in and do what needed to be done.”

O’Brien, Tindal and McGivern responded to calls involving people who attempted suicide, Gardner said. VanWeelden and Daubs helped save people in medical crisis, and Brink and Egli helped save a man severely injured in a vehicle wreck, Gardner said.

On Jan. 25, 2018, O’Brien and Tindal responded to a home in Center Point where someone shut themselves in a garage with a vehicle running.

Gardner said O’Brien has been with the sheriff’s office for nearly 10 years and is currently a patrol sergeant, while Tindal has worked for the department for more than 10 years. Tindal is currently assigned to the patrol division.

When they arrived, Gardner said, the officers entered the garage and found the person in the vehicle. The person “appeared very groggy and dazed,” but was breathing. O’Brien and Tindal turned off the vehicle and dragged the person out of the garage and into the front yard where medical personnel began to administer treatment.

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“If not for the quick and proper actions of Sgt. O’Brien and deputy Tindal, the victim more than likely would have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning,” Gardner said.

About two months later, Brink and Egli were dispatched to a vehicle crash with injuries in the 6900 block of Williams Boulevard SW.

Gardner said Brink is one of three state-certified deputy-paramedics in the department and has worked for the sheriff’s office for almost 18 years. Egli, he said, has worked for the sheriff’s office for more than 17 years, and was assigned to the patrol division when the incident occurred.

At the scene, the deputies found the driver of a pickup critically injured and struggling to breathe, but they were unable to reach the driver because of severe damage to the truck. Gardner said the deputies decided to break out the truck’s windows to help the driver until medics and an helicopter arrived.

The driver was taken to a hospital and has since been transferred to a rehabilitation program where he continues to recover, Gardner said.

Because Brink and Egli reacted quickly to help the driver, Gardner said the officers likely saved his life.

“Their quick on-scene thinking, and deputy-paramedic Brink’s ability to tend to the driver’s injuries, likely made the difference,” the sheriff said. “They acted with situational awareness, attentiveness, compassion and perseverance, and that’s to be commended.”

A few weeks later, on March 31, McGivern was off-duty when he received a call from an acquaintance in Marion who was threatening to kill herself by overdosing on medication.

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Instead of passing the call off to an on-duty officer, Gardner said McGivern went to exceptional lengths to find the woman, who sounded more and more sluggish as time passed.

With the help of Marion police, the woman was eventually located at the Marion pool, where she was extremely sluggish and barely speaking, and taken to a hospital.

“Capt. McGivern took it upon himself during off-duty hours to continue to reach out to an acquaintance who was in need of assistance,” Gardner said. “He could have merely passed the information along to Marion (police) and the sheriff’s office and then ended his involvement in the situation. … Ultimately, his direct and continued involvement resulted in her being found and being given the medical and mental health care that she needed.”

In November, deputies responded to two medical emergencies — one involving a woman possibly having a heart attack and the other involving a man who collapsed.

VanWeelden and was dispatched on Nov. 14 to a Central City home to help a woman believed to be having a heart attack. When he arrived, the woman was unconscious and had no pulse. Members of the Central City Fire Department were administering CPR.

VanWeelden joined in the efforts to save the woman, giving her medication, performing CPR and administering shocks with a portable automated external defibrillator. The woman survived and was released from a hospital several days later.

“It is clear that this is exactly the type of team effort that the American Heart Association defines as best practice during cardiac events,” Gardner said. “While deputy-paramedic VanWeelden was not the only first responder providing care to this patient, he played a key role in the victim’s survival.”

Less than two weeks later, Daubs responded to a home in Fairfax where a man collapsed and was not breathing.

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Daubs arrived at the residence within five minutes, Gardner said, grabbed his portable defibrillator and ran inside where and another rescuer performed CPR and shocked the patient until other emergency personnel arrived. The man survived, and after weeks of intensive

care, was released from the hospital.

“Deputy Daubs’ quick response and his quick application of the AED were crucial to the patient’s successful outcome,” Gardner said.

Each of the seven deputies acted quickly and with compassion to help people in dire situations, the sheriff said.

“It’s one thing to do our jobs — and by and large we do our jobs very well here,” Gardner said. “But sometimes our deputies have do a job that requires they go above and beyond — such as saving a life or putting themselves in danger — and they jump in without missing a beat.

“It’s a very big deal,” the sheriff added. “It’s important for us to recognize these successes, but it is also important for the public, which is invested in this agency, to get to see the results of that investment.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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