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Officers honored for rescuing two from burning Frazee house

Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander congratulates Deputy Matt Gerving, who was given a Lifesaver Award for helping rescue a woman and a child from a house fire recently in Frazee. Frazee police officer David Kumpula (not pictured) was also honored Tuesday at the Becker County Board meeting. Photo by Barry Nelson

It took two law enforcement officers just two minutes to get to a burning house in Frazee after they learned there were people trapped inside.

Becker County Deputy Matt Gerving and Frazee Police Officer David Kumpula entered the burning house on the east side of Frazee at 10:46 p.m. on Jan. 24, but flames had engulfed the kitchen and they couldn't get to the two people who were trapped — a 59-year-old woman and a 5-year-old child.

They shouted to the occupants and the woman responded. They could also hear the 5-year-old crying.

Gerving yelled and asked if the woman and child could come to his voice, and the woman responded that they couldn't get to the officers because of the flames.

Gerving and Kumpula ran out of the house and around to the back side, where they pounded on windows. They could see the woman and child through the windows, and broke the glass on one of the windows to get to them.

Gerving lifted the child through the window opening and Kumpula helped the woman escape through the window. The whole rescue took just three minutes.

The low temperature that day was 17 below, and the woman and the child took refuge in a squad car until they received care from Frazee Rescue and St. Mary's EMS. The woman suffered burns to her feet, and she and the child were both transported to Essentia St. Mary's Hospital for treatment.

For their quick action, the two officers received Becker County Lifesaver awards Tuesday at the Becker County Board meeting.

"Deputy Gerving and Officer Kumpula responded immediately to this scene and helped these victims to safety within five minutes from the time they received this call," said Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander. "If not for their actions, the outcome of this fire could have been tragic. Both of you truly went above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you both for your unwavering response to this event!"

The Becker County Lifesaver Award is 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. No risk to the rescuer's own life is required. The recipient of this award receives a "Life Savers Certificate" presented by the Becker County Board of Commissioners. The act may occur during time of employment or assisting an individual while off duty.

1. The act is submitted and documented to the Becker County Safety Director and Becker County Safety Committee within six months of occurrence.

2. The act would consist of one or more of the following action:

a. Performing mouth to mouth or some other type of artificial ventilation

b. Performing CPR

c. Performing the act of AED application and usage

d. Performing an anti-choking maneuver

e. Performing other life-saving first aid techniques

f. The performance of an act involving quick thinking and decision-making that prevents others from being seriously injured or prevents the loss of additional life.

A simple narrative of the incident is submitted for review to the Becker County Safety Committee. The committee using the above guidelines would make recommendation as to an individual receiving the award. The narrative may be submitted by any employee or citizen of Becker County or any emergency agency who may be present during the incident.

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