Linn County Sheriff's Office recognizes nine employees for 'extraordinary actions'

Incidents involved pair of medical emergencies at jail, attempted suicide at Palisades-Kepler

March 28, 2014 | 11:27 am

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office has issued commendations to nine members of law enforcement and medical staff for their actions over the past year.

Sheriff Brian Gardner said Thursday he feels the employees need more recognition for their extraordinary acts than merely being presented an award, so commendation recipients are now also recognized at a quarterly Linn County Employee Recognition Breakfast. Gardner said employees are normally presented the award in a more intimate setting shortly after the incident occurs, but having the quarterly recognition breakfast allows them to be honored in front of hundreds of people.

The Sheriff’s Office has had a commendation award program in place since the early 1990s. Employees receive an award, a certificate, a decorative medal and a citation bar to be worn on their uniform.

Here are the commendation recipients announced Thursday:

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Deputy Jimmy Keller was presented the Life Saving Award for his actions on May 12, 2012. Officials said Deputy Keller was working in the Linn County Correctional Center when he was picking up meal trays from one of the cells and observed an inmate with a t-shirt tied around his neck, with the other end secured to an item in the cell. Deputy Keller found that the t-shirt was placing pressure against the inmate’s neck, who authorities said was mostly unresponsive.

Deputy Keller was able to loosen the t-shirt from around the inmate’s neck and locate a pulse. Officials said the inmate then began gasping for air.

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A Medal of Valor was presented to Sgt. Andy Humphrey and Deputies Shawn Ireland and Casey Sanders, and a Life Saving Award was presented to Deputies Alan Johnson and Bradley Campbell for their actions during an incident at Palisades-Kepler State Park on July 25, 2012.

Officials responded to a report of a possible suicidal subject in her early 20s on a cliff at the State Park. Authorities said they received information that the female was going to the park to commit suicide by jumping from the cliff.

Shortly after the deputies arrived, they located the individual’s vehicle and searched the nearby area. Officials located the girl sitting on the ledge of a cliff, 25 to 30 feet above ground, with her legs dangling over the edge. Officials said that the daylight was going from “low light to darkness” when she was located.

Ireland and Sanders, along with DNR Park Ranger Jim Hansen, stayed on the top side of the cliff with the woman, while Johnson and Mount Vernon Police Officer Steve Moel took a position below and used a flashlight to help illuminate her to those on the top side of the cliff.

Ireland left the area for a short time to retrieve rope from his patrol vehicle, and move his car closer to the scene, as emergency responders attempted to speak with the woman. Ireland tied one end of the rope to the railing, and Hansen, who was standing between the woman and railing, tied the other end around himself. Officials said this allowed Hansen to get closer to the woman without the fear of falling.

Authorities said Deputy Ireland used a “calm, reassuring voice” in an attempt to communicate with the woman, but officials said she was “obviously very distraught and irritated and refused to talk.”

Without warning, the woman moved and attempted to jump off the cliff. Hansen immediately grabbed one of the woman’s wrists, while Sanders grabbed the other. Authorities said although Ireland was holding onto the rope, preventing them from falling, he was unable to pull them to safety. 

Officials said Johnson did not falter in lighting the area from below, and this allowed rescuers to safely move to assist the woman back over the ledge. Authorities said Deputy Campbell assisted where needed during this incident, and after she was secured, helped with her medical care.

Gardner said he believes Moel was recognized by Mount Vernon police chief Mark Winder at a city council meeting last year, but he was unsure if Hansen was awarded anything for his actions.

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On December 13, 2012, an inmate in the Linn County Correctional Center was placed into a first floor shower, and upon request, given a razor so that he could shave. Officials said while the inmate was in the shower, Deputy Jeff Marek was completing a required cell check and could not clearly see into the shower due to fog from the hot water.

Officials said Marek noticed an unknown substance on the floor of the shower area, and he immediately went to the first floor control center to ask the control deputy to bring up the shower camera to see what the inmate and doing, and what was on the floor. Marek was informed it looked like blood, and immediately called for assistance and went to the shower to check on the inmate.

Authorities said the inmate was found lying on the shower floor surrounded by a large quantity of blood. Marek grabbed a towel and applied direct pressure to the numerous self-inflicted cuts on both sides of the inmate’s neck until medical staff arrived.

Nurses Dana Murray and Nikki Neuzil arrived on the first floor shower and assisted Marek in rendering first aid to the inmate.

Patrol supervisor and paramedic specialist Andy Humprey was leaving the Linn County Courthouse when he received a notice on his pager that an ambulance was dispatched to the Correction Center for a suicide attempt. Humphrey responded to the Correctional Center and provided life-saving care to the inmate and instruction to assisting staff members.

An ambulance arrived and took the inmate to the hospital for treatment. Officials said the inmate lost a large amount of blood, but was treated for his wounds and was able to return to the Correctional Center that evening.

The Life Saving Award was presented to Humphrey, Marek, Murray and Neuzil for their actions on Dec. 13, 2012. Gardner said this is a first for nurses to receive the Life Saving Award, and added that the award is one of the few that can go to all employees, regardless of duty assignment.

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