Quick thinking led one firefighter to save a person from a series of potentially fatal seizures.
An officer introduced an assessment protocol for domestic abuse victims that an entire police department now implements.
Another police officer courageously pursued armed assailants and one EMT “reassured and comforted” a husband and wife just after the couple were shot.
These are the stories that merited four Independence public service workers of various departments recognition for going above and beyond their duties.
The annual First Responders Recognition and Awards Breakfast took place Friday at the Truman Memorial Building in Independence, where more than a hundred community leaders and public service personnel gathered to honor one firefighter, two police officers and one emergency medical technician for their acts of heroism, community service, bravery and dedication.
“We have received more than twice the number of nominations compared to last year,” said Independence Chamber of Commerce CEO Franklin Kimbrough, who co-sponsored the presentation, along with The Examiner. He later added the Chamber contemplated for quite some time on selecting recipients as it was practically receiving nominations “every day.”
The First Responders Award in Heroism was presented to Independence firefighter/paramedic Chad Sappenfield for his “quick thinking and knowledge” in saving the life of a local long-term care facility employee having recurring seizures. Chamber Chairperson Cindy McClain told the audience that Sappenfield and the crew responded to a Dec. 5, 2013, medical call involving the employee experiencing seizures. Despite initiating Advance Life Support care – equipment that was with Sappenfield and crew’s pumper – the employee’s seizures persisted.
“After calling dispatch to check on the expected arrival of the ambulance, the crew was informed that it would likely be another 15 minutes,” she said.
Sappenfield sought the director of the facility to see if they had any medication available that would help the employee. Unfortunately there was no medication used for seizures. He then called the emergency department at Centerpoint Medical Center to ask what could be used as a substitute medication to cause the seizures to subside. The Centerpoint doctor gave the go-ahead to administer the substitute medicine and the seizures slowed, allowing enough time for the ambulance to take the employee to the hospital.
“My employee was literally dying right before my eyes,” McClain related as what the director of nursing at the long-term care facility noted. “The seizures just would not stop. The employee was turning purple ... (Sappenfield was) thinking outside of the box.”
For Independence Police Officer Brock Kelley, a life-threatening encounter at a Noland Road hotel earned him the 2014 First Responders Award in Bravery. Kelley responded to a larceny call at the Independence hotel and noticed two individuals acting suspicious. He approached the two, and one suspect lied about his identification while the other took off running along the side of the hotel.
“As Kelley rounded the corner of the building still in full pursuit,” Examiner Publisher Al Bonner told the crowd, “he heard the sound of gunfire and then felt the muzzle flash from the suspect’s gun hit him in the face and arm. The suspects then fired two additional shots at the first responder before starting to run away.”
But Kelley remained undeterred and moved to nearby trees for cover. The suspects resumed firing as Kelley drew his weapon. He shot approximately three rounds, striking one of the suspects who was still firing.
“About that same time, additional officers arrived on the scene and assisted our award recipient in taking the suspects off the streets of our community,” Bonner said.
An 11 question assessment used by first responders to effectively serve domestic violence victims was introduced to the Independence Police Department two years ago and is currently being implemented. Maj. Edward Turner of Independence Police is credited as being instrumental in the departmentwide utililzation of the assessment protocol called “Lethality,” and as a result, he was awarded the First Responders Award in Community Service.
“He (Turner) advocated for its implementation, ensured that policies and procedures were in place to support the initiative and participated in the training for all 300 local officers that now employ the assessment when responding to domestic violence situations,” McClain told those in attendance.
Lethality is a series of questions an officer asks a domestic violence victim that predicts the likelihood of future danger, such as the risk of being killed by their partner, and how to effectively respond to high danger situations, McClain explained. The protocol also requires the officer to share the results of the assessment with the victim and encourages them to seek domestic violence services, like Hope House in Independence. The officer will also help make arrangements between the victim and service if needed, she added.
“Since that date two years ago, several victims in violent domestic situations have been provided the assistance they so desperately needed as a result of the implementation,” McClain added.
An Independence couple was fighting for their lives after being shot in the face, chest, abdomen and other extremities one January 2014 morning. One EMT, meanwhile, remained calm and took charge of both the husband and wife by reassuring and comforting them in the midst of a chaotic scene.
EMT Jenny Nance of American Medical Response, the city of Independence’s ambulance service, was awarded the 2014 First Responders Award for Dedication by compassionately tending victims of a shooting and later reconnecting with them.
“She goes into to work with a focus on doing the best job she can and takes pride in being the best paramedic possible,” Bonner said.
Some comments from Centerpoint’s emergency department staff describe Nance as “meticulous,” “gives the best reports” and “I hope that if I am ever in an emergency, she is the one that steps out of the ambulance!”
Along with comforting, “performing interventions that may mean the difference between life and death” and transporting the most critically injured of the two the January 2014 shooting victims, she recently made some time to reunite with the lives that she had helped saved and their families.
“The patients found it hard to find the words to express their thanks for saving their live, but multiple hugs spoke volumes about how important she is to this (victim’s) family.”
Bonner added that Nance “likely doesn’t realize the impact she has made, not only on patients but on her colleagues as well.”
“She continually seeks to improve her practice and strives to increase her knowledge in the medical field.”