Honoring those who serve | VailDaily.com

Honoring those who serve

VAIL — Most of the time we see our public safety people and we're glad they're there. Once a year, though, local Rotary Clubs shine the spotlight on those who walk in harm's way so the rest of us won't have to, said Steve Hatley, president of the Vail Rotary Club.

Rotarians in Eagle, Edwards and Vail recently presented their annual Public Safety Appreciation Awards Dinner, honoring local public safety staffers whose acts in the line of duty saved lives while sometimes endangering their own.

Distinguished Service Award

Paramedics Amy Hennessey and Steve Zuckerman spent countless hours of their own time and resources helping a mutual friend return home to Kansas, find housing here in Colorado, set up a GoFundMe site, accompanying him to court dates and appointments, visited him and are happy to report he's doing fine.

"They were instrumental and one of the sole reasons this person moved from an emotional low, to stable housing and a very improved emotional and physical state," said their supervisor, Chris Dick.

Unit Citations for Meritorious Service

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Vail ski patrollers Ian King, Emily Selonick, Amy Reynolds, Caroline Stone, Jenn Pirog, Josh Mauro and paramedics Dave DiFlumeri, Jennie Thorne and Graham Kane responded to reports of a skier who had collapsed near Blue Sky Basin. The ski patrollers arrived and immediately started CPR. They were met at the base of the mountain by paramedics who kept treating him while they rushed him to the local hospital and eventually to Denver. That patient is alive to tell the tale.

So far this year, the Eagle County jail has been the site of at least 15 incidents that required Eagle County detention deputies to provide aid to inmates. Between May and July they've prevented inmate suicide nine times.

Call of the Year

On Dec. 26, Beth Dobransky took a call from a female traveling with a man who was suicidal. The man had a handgun and threatened to use it if he saw any police, so Dobransky told the woman to text 911. As it turns out, those were the first 911 texts sent to dispatchers using that new technology. Dispatcher Krysta Gardner kept a text conversation going with the woman for the next two hours as they drove west on Interstate 70. Dispatcher Troy Kirk coordinated radio communications with the Eagle County Sheriff's Office, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Department of Transportation and the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. In the meantime, Dobransky and Chris Ciaffone handled the rest of the 911 call volume. Near Palisade, the woman who was texting with Gardner managed to get the gun and threw it out the window. The State Patrol pulled the vehicle over and arrested the man.

First Responders of the Year

Eagle County Sheriff's Deputy Lisa Vasquez volunteers as a Gypsum firefighter, organizes child safety seat inspections, assists in the countywide Make A Difference Day food drive that collects almost 1 million pounds of food each year nationwide, and participates in the annual Shop With A Cop program. She's also a driving force behind the annual Special Olympics Torch Run through Eagle County.

Scott Pottratz is an engineer with the Eagle River Fire Protection District and a member of Team Rubicon, a nationwide organization that deploys veterans to emergencies across the country such as floods, hurricanes and fires. When they're not on the road doing national work, they help locals. Pottratz and Colorado's Team Rubicon helped a local Gold Star mother who lives on a densely forested and steeply sloping property in Edwards. They thinned the growth and decreased the fire danger.

Leadership Award

Jennifer Kirkland is operations support supervisor with the countywide 911 system, was co-chair of the Communications Working Group for the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships and worked with the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee to develop better communications pathways for non-English speakers. She completed a term as the president of Colorado's Association of Public Safety Communications Officers and National Emergency Number Association. She helped consolidate the organizations and helped with an investigation that resulted in a board member being prosecuted for embezzling funds. She is also a volunteer firefighter in Gypsum.

Lifesaver Awards

When Eagle County Sheriff's Deputy Rebecca Anderson responded to a call from a man who reported his wife was not breathing, Anderson quickly began CPR. She continued for several minutes until fire and ambulance crews arrived. The victim was transported to a local hospital, and paramedics said Anderson's actions saved the woman's life.

Eagle County Sheriff's Deputy Jordan Harrison rushed to Cordillera and a call that a 2-year-old child was not breathing and was drowning. The child's father was trying to do CPR, and Harrison took over when he arrived on the scene. Forty-five seconds later the child began to cry, move and breathe on his own.

Medal of Valor

It was Aug. 10, 2015, that Avon police officers Toby Baldwin and Aurion Hassinger responded to a call about a suicidal juvenile girl. After a quick search they found her on the railroad bridge above Avon Road, where she was holding the rail and leaning back over the road and traffic below. Baldwin had built a rapport with the girl over the previous months and went out to the edge to grasp the girl, while Hassinger held onto him. The girl struggled and repeatedly screamed to be let go, while the officers tried to talk her back over to the safe side of the railing. After several minutes, the girl agreed to be pulled to safety. Baldwin later went to the hospital on his own time to be with the girl and her family. She later wrote him a note thanking him for caring about her.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Eagle County Public Safety Appreciation Awards

Distinguished Service: Amy Hennessey and Steve Zuckerman, Eagle County Paramedic Services

Unit Citation for Meritorious Service: Vail Ski Patrol, Eagle County Paramedic Services, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office Detentions Division

Call of the Year: Vail Public Safety Communications Center

First Responder of the Year: Lisa Vasquez, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office; Scott Pottratz, Eagle River Fire Protection District.

Leadership: Jennifer Kirkland, Vail Public Safety Communications Center

Lifesaving: Becca Anderson and Jordan Harrison, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office

Medal of Valor: Toby Baldwin, Avon Police Department; Aurion Hassinger, Avon Police Department