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St. Louis County Presents 9-1-1 Lifesaver Award

Categories: 2008 Press Releases | Author: Peggy Carlson | Posted: 5/9/2008 | Views: 23291

May 5, 2008                                                                   

CONTACT: Sheriff Ross Litman

                     St. Louis County Sheriff

                     Duluth, MN   (218-726-2340)




For Immediate Release:





The St. Louis County Board will present its annual 9-1-1 Lifesaver Award on Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 9:30 AM in the St. Louis County Board Room, 2nd Floor, St. Louis County Courthouse, 100 N. 5th Avenue West, Duluth, MN. 

Since 1993, St. Louis County has annually recognized the efforts of those individuals who have worked together, often compromising their own safety, to save the life of another person or persons.  Not only does the 9-1-1 Lifesaver Award honor those worthy of such recognition, but it provides information to the public on how the 9‑1‑1 system works.  The 2007 awards will be presented to five categories: Corrections Officers, Law Enforcement, Rescue, Emergency Communications Specialist, and Citizen.  The specific awards and recipients are listed below, along with a description of the event resulting in the award recognition:


Corrections Officers (CO) Award -  Sgt. Keppeler, PC Roling, CO Pigman, CO Marshall, PF Lemke, CC Johnson, CO Ostrov, CO Sundin:

Jail inmates had just finished their evening meal.  CO Marshall was pushing out the dinner trays when he was approached by an inmate who reported another inmate appeared to be having a seizure.  CO Marshall called a Code Blue which led to a coordinated rescue effort on the part of several on-duty jail staff.  The victim was sitting in a chair, unresponsive, with labored breathing when Marshall arrived.  Marshall held the victim’s head until other staff arrived seconds later.  Together, they lowered the victim to the floor, at which time the victim had no pulse and was not breathing.  CPR was begun and oxygen was administered first with a CPR mask and then with an oxygen bag/pump. 


After administering approximately 3 cycles of CPR, the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) was applied.  The victim was shocked twice.   Chest compressions and oxygen delivery continued until paramedics and the ambulance arrived approximately 9 minutes later to take over. 


As some staff initially worked on the victim, others were assisting in locking down the remaining inmates in the unit, checking medical records on the victim, and retrieving medical supplies.  All staff worked as a team and took turns performing CPR on the victim. 


 The victim was transported by ambulance to a cardiac intensive care unit where it was determined a cardiac arrest had occurred as the result of a 100% blockage on the back side of the heart.  An angioplasty was performed and stents were surgically inserted.  Thanks to the quick initial response by CO Marshall, and the excellent team work demonstrated by Sgt. Keppler, PC Roling, CO Pigman, PF Lemke, CC Johnson, CO Ostrov, and CO Sundin, this rescue had a successful outcome.  


Law Enforcement Award – Ryan Woodman:

Deputy Ryan Woodman was working patrol in the Hibbing area when he came upon an odor of smoke on Howard Street in Hibbing.  As he continued to check the area, he was alerted by a citizen of a fire at 204 E. Howard Street which housed a business with four individual apartments above it.  First on the scene, Deputy Woodman entered the building and encountered heavy smoke inside.  He quickly began knocking on apartment doors, alerting occupants of the fire and assisting them in exiting the building.  He quickly evacuated at least four adults and one infant to safety. 


During this time, Deputy Woodman reported the fire to 9-1-1 and maintained continuous radio contact with the dispatch center informing them of his progress in evacuating the building.  9-1-1 dispatched both Hibbing Fire and Police Departments who arrived on the scene within minutes.  Deputy Woodman’s brave actions undoubtedly protected citizens of St. Louis County from harm or potential death.  His actions speak highly of his professionalism and dedication to service in the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office. 


Rescue Award – Jon Koop, Eric Kilpo, Brian Johnson:

Late on a September afternoon, the Duluth 9-1-1 center received a report from the Coast Guard of a damaged vessel 200 feet south of the lift bridge, still in the lake.  The large Coast Guard patrol boat was unable to motor close enough to the vessel to determine whether or not anyone was on board, so the Duluth Fire Department and the St. Louis County Rescue Squad were dispatched to assist. 


Duluth Fire Department’s small boat reached the vessel and found it to be in gear and running, and unoccupied.  A coordinated search of the vast Lake Superior waters and shoreline was initiated.  Lt. John Koop, Eric Kilpo, and Brian Johnson from the St. Louis County Rescue Squad participated in the search with the RS Whaler.  They made several runs parallel to shore searching for victims.  Lt. Koop was piloting the boat, and Kilpo and Johnson were spotters. 


One hour after the initial Coast Guard report, Kilpo spotted a person in the water.  The victim was approximately 400 feet from shore, floating on her back without a life preserver.  The three rescue squad members pulled her from the water and brought her back to the Coast Guard Station, treating her for severe hypothermia, until Gold Cross Ambulance arrived and transported her to the hospital.  The victim had been in the 60 degree water for approximately 90 minutes before being located by the Rescue Squad team.  Although still conscious and alert when they reached her, she would not have survived for very long without being rescued.  Her core temperature was only 95 degrees when she arrived at the hospital. 


In addition to Koop, Kilpo, and Johnson, others from the St. Louis County Rescue Squad along with the Coast Guard, Duluth Fire Department, Duluth Police Department, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office and 9-1-1, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and Gold Cross Ambulance, all participated in bringing this well-coordinated incident to a successful outcome.  


Emergency Communications Specialist Award – Linda Vukich:

Emergency Communications Specialist Linda Vukich was determined to help a caller who kept hanging up on her and who was almost completely unable to speak.  So determined, that she used calm, patient, repetitive persistence techniques for nearly 23 minutes, calling him back each time he hung up on her, until her co-workers were able to get him the help he needed. 


The distraught victim had intentionally shot himself in the face.  He called 9-1-1 from his home phone and disconnected before the call was answered in the 9-1-1 center.  When Linda attempted to call the number back and it was busy, she called Qwest to check for conversation.  They found no conversation on the open line.  Shortly after, Linda answered another call from a cell phone. Though difficult to understand, it appeared to be a male voice asking for help.  Within a couple of minutes, she was able to determine it was the same person who had called and hung up, using his home phone.  Now she was able to verify his location and his name from what appeared on her computer screen.  He was unable to communicate it himself, but she was able to understand his “yes” when she read it back to him.


Linda assured the victim he must stay on the line with her, and that she was doing everything she could to help him.  He became more cooperative as time went by.  She was eventually able to ascertain where the gun was, what type of injuries he had, and was able to talk him out of the house and remain still until help arrived.  When help was close, Linda asked the caller to stand up and turn toward the house and place his hands on his head to ensure a safe entry for responders.  


Finally, both law enforcement and medical personnel were on the scene and able to begin the critical care this victim needed.  Linda was able to breathe a brief sigh of relief until another 9-1-1 line rang.


Citizen Award – Wayne Suliin:

Little did off duty 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Specialist Wayne Suliin, who is also a member of the Solway Volunteer Fire Department know that when he and his wife stopped at Rascals Lounge in Proctor to have a relaxing cocktail, that a few minutes later he would be working hard to save the bartender’s life.  Wayne witnessed the bartender, who also happens to be his friend, collapse to the floor, turning blue.  Within a minute Wayne, a trained First Responder, had completed a patient assessment and began CPR.   He continued CPR until the ambulance arrived and administered four shocks with the AED. 


The victim started breathing again and was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital where he underwent surgery and also received a pacemaker.  He is now healthy and back to doing the things he enjoys, thanks to the swift action of his friend Wayne Suliin who just happened to stop in Rascals at the right time!




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