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Deputy honored for saving life

Deputy Jon Peterson is credited with saving the life of a woman in a house filled with dangerous gas. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Though he might technically have been considered a “rookie” when he responded to a call of a possible suicide attempt in rural Becker County on Aug. 16, the actions of Deputy Jon Peterson at the scene were those of a seasoned veteran.

According to a report of the incident issued by the Becker County Sheriff’s Department, it was directly due to Peterson’s actions at the scene that a woman’s life was saved — and thus, he became the recipient of the county’s first-ever Lifesaver Award on Dec. 17.

The new award was given “for saving or attempting to save a life using modern life saving techniques and/or quick and appropriate action in an attempt to save a life,” according to the news release.

“On Aug. 16, Becker County Deputy Jon Peterson responded to a call of a possible attempted suicide in rural Becker County,” the report read.

“Upon arrival, the rescue member advised Deputy Peterson that due to a strong odor of natural gas in the house, they did not enter the house. Deputy Peterson made the decision to enter the household and assist the female.

“Upon entering he did smell a strong odor of gas inside the residence and made the decision to carry the female outside so first aid could be rendered. The female was unresponsive, so Deputy Peterson requested Life Flight to respond to the scene. Due to Deputy Peterson’s selfless act and quick responses, her life was saved. ”

It is worth noting that Peterson had been employed by the sheriff’s department for less than six months at the time the incident occurred — and it was his first job in law enforcement.

Before that, Peterson had worked for several years in the construction business.

“I have a brother and about five cousins in law enforcement, and I had been on some ride alongs (with them), and it interested me,” Peterson said of his reason for changing careers.

The sputtering economy also had an impact on his choice, he said, as the construction business slowed and “I wanted something a little more stable” to support the family, which includes wife Sara and eight kids between the ages of 3 months and 11 years.

“An opportunity came up to go back to school and do this, so I decided to go for it,” Peterson added.

Though he declined to disclose the identity of the woman whose life he saved, in order to protect her privacy, Peterson did describe the incident in a little more detail.

“There was a strong propane odor in the whole house, it was really strong,” he said. “I made the decision to carry her outside into the fresh air before I started thinking about any kind of medical attention.”

The rescue squad members at the scene “did an excellent job,” Peterson added. “I asked them right away to get her vitals, and her blood pressure was extremely low, so I called in for Life Flight.”

Peterson said the other deputies at the scene also assisted by helping to set up the landing zone for the aircraft, as did the local fire department.

“I definitely feel honored,” Peterson said of his reaction to the award. “I just think a lot of other people did a good job, and they deserve something (in recognition of their efforts) too.”

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Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454