Skip to Content

Dowagiac first responders, school staff honored for life-saving actions

DOWAGIAC — The Dowagiac City Council recognized local first responders and Dowagiac Union Schools staff with lifesaving awards during Monday’s meeting.

Public Safety Director Steve Grinnewald recognized nine first responders and DUS staff for their life-saving efforts in three incidents over the past year.

“We are here to recognize several professionals from the Dowagiac Police and Fire Departments, as well as employees of Dowagiac Union Schools,” Grinnewald said. “Professionals that were faced with situations that because of their training, experience, and character they took action and saved someone’s life.”

  • DPD Detective Thorn Lewis and DFD Lt. Doug Michels were honored for their efforts during a Jan. 8, 2023 incident involving an unresponsive female laying on the floor of a home due to an overdose.

Detective Lewis responded and located a 38 year-old female in an upstairs bedroom with her skin turning blue, eyes rolled back in her head and very shallow breathing. Detective Lewis immediately administered two doses of Narcan and attempted to communicate with the subject. After no response, Detective Lewis applied the AED and began CPR.

After several minutes, she began to show signs of response and began breathing on her own. A short time later, Lt. Doug Michels with the Dowagiac Fire Department arrived and assisted the ambulance crew with establishing an airway as the patient began breathing on her own. She was transported to the hospital where she made a full recovery.

Without Detective Lewis’s and Lt. Michels quick action the outcome would have been drastically different.

  • DPD Student Resource Officer Ryan Maggert, Detective Lewis, DUS Nurse Suzanne Dorman, DUS Trainer Gabrielle Shultz, Deputy Fire Chief Tony Stewart, DFD Lt. Robert Smith and DFD Lt. Robert Nelson were recognized for their efforts in resuscitating substitute teacher and former Brandywine Athletic Director Vance Stratton during a Dec. 12 incident at DUHS.

Officer Maggert was in a meeting at the Dowagiac Union High School. While in that meeting he overheard radio traffic requesting someone to call 911 due to someone being down in the hallway. He immediately went to the location and found substitute teacher Vance Stratton laying in the hallway with no pulse and not breathing. Officer Maggert immediately began CPR.

A short time later, Dorman and Shultz arrived with an AED and applied it to Stratton. The AED provided a shock and Officer Maggert continued uninterrupted CPR for several minutes. Detective Lewis arrived a short time later and took over CPR for Officer Maggert who continued to assist as well as nurse Dorman providing breaths. Lt. Nelson arrived and relieved Detective Lewis and continued CPR. Chief Stewart and Lt. Smith arrived a short time later and applied the Lucas CPR compression device to Stratton and established an airway to assist with rescue breaths.

The AED shocked twice during this incident. Mr. Stratton was eventually transported to the hospital where he made a recovery. Stratton, along with his family, were in attendance to thank everyone involved.

  • Detective Lewis and firefighter Robert Jones were recognized for a Dec. 30, 2023 incident at Chestnut Towers apartments involving a male subject who was having chest pain and trouble breathing.

Detective Lewis found a 52 year-old male subject in front of the building that appeared to be in distress. While Detective Lewis was speaking with the subject he went unconscious and stopped breathing. Detective Lewis immediately applied the AED to the subject and it shocked immediately.

After calling for assistance, Detective Lewis then began CPR and did uninterrupted CPR for over 3 minutes before Dowagiac Fire Department Firefighter Robert Jones arrived to assist. Firefighter Jones and Detective Lewis applied the Lucas CPR compression device and assisted as necessary. A pulse and breathing was established a short time later as the ambulance arrived to take over care of the patient. The AED shocked a total of three times during this incident and the patient has since made a full recovery.

“These professionals embody all of the reasons that a person decides to become a police officer or firefighter,” Grinnewald said. “They have a commitment and dedication to their community that is unmatched. They carry out their duties with compassion, pride, professionalism, honor, respect, and integrity. We would expect nothing less from members of the Dowagiac Police and Fire Departments as well as employees of Dowagiac Union Schools.”