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City honors police officer, state trooper, EMS workers for lifesaving efforts

Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk, at left, shakes the hand of Police Officer Joe Steffens before presenting him with a Lifesaving Award. Also honored was Minnesota State Patrol Lieutenant Mike Engum (next to Steffen). The two men were recognized for saving the life of Gary Wright Jr., at left, of Perham. (Submitted photo)

Local emergency responders were honored with Livesaving Awards last week for their efforts in saving the life of a Perham man in April.

Detroit Lakes Police Chief Steve Todd and Mayor Matt Brenk presented the awards at the start of the City Council's regular meeting.

Among those honored were Detroit Lakes Police Department Officer Joe Steffens and Minnesota State Patrol Lieutenant Mike Engum, who were the first to arrive at the scene of an April 20 crash on Highway 10, near the East Shore Drive exit.

Chief Todd read an excerpt of the report from the accident, which states: "Lt. Engum discovered that the victim's vehicle had crashed into a tree, the driver's side of the car was tilted downwards in about 2 feet of water, the driver was not responsive, the car doors were locked and the driver's foot was still on the accelerator. Lt. Engum gained access to the vehicle by breaking the glass on the passenger side rear window, he checked the pulse of the driver and found no pulse and he was not breathing. Engum also shut off the vehicle to prevent further movement or increased risk of fire.

"Officer Joe Steffens arrived on scene and together with Lt. Engum they removed the driver from the vehicle and laid him flat on the ground. Lt. Engum and Officer Steffens connected an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) to the driver's chest and began the AED process."

The officers gave three more shocks to the victim before CPR was started, followed by one more shock delivery before St. Mary's EMS arrived on the scene.

Paramedics Randy Athmann, Jacob McGowan and Tony Timm, then took over care of the patient, along with EMTs Darcie McCulloch and Manoah Anderson, all of whom were also recognized with Livesaving Awards from the City of Detroit Lakes and the Detroit Lakes Police Department.

The driver involved in the accident, Gary Wright Jr., was also on hand at Monday's meeting to say thank you to those who saved his life. He says he has no recollection of the crash or the four days following the crash, though he has since recovered and returned to work in Detroit Lakes.