To hear the officers tell it, the lifesaving measures they employed in May 2017 on a woman who was suffering a medical emergency was just part of the job.
The law enforcement community, however, felt differently, and awarded DPS Trooper Justin Reese and Madisonville Police Department officers Lucas Cunningham and Hector Camarillo certificates for their efforts.
The MPD officers received Director’s Awards, and Reese was given a Lifesaving Award at a ceremony in Austin on Thursday.
DPS Director Steven McCraw said that these and other public servants honored personify the department’s efforts to save lives and protect the public.
“Texans can be proud that these award recipients are committed each and every day to protecting and serving this great state, and we are better off because of their selfless dedication,” McCraw said.
Cunningham said the incident occurred in May 2017 when officials received a medical call of an elderly lady who had fallen down at a local retail store.
“She had fallen down and wasn’t breathing,” Cunningham said. “I started chest compressions and we all rotated out between CPR and bagging for ventilation until the ambulance arrived.”
Camarillo said the three officers were trying to stabilize the victim before emergency medical personnel arrived.
“When we pulled on the scene, she didn’t have a pulse at all,” Camarillo said. “I knew some of her family, and I really wanted to save her life.”
The three officers alternated between breathing and chest compressions, and when EMS personnel arrived, the victim was administered defibrillation, and CPR was continued until the patient revived.
“Luke and Hector did more than I did, but we all worked together to make it right,” Reese said. “It’s the same job we do every day, keeping everyone safe, and we try to save lives the best we can.”
She was then taken to CHI St. Joseph in Bryan, and has recovered.
“I got into law enforcement to help people, I figured we would do stuff like this, but I didn’t think we’d get awards for doing our jobs,” Reese said. “I always want to do something along these lines, and I don’t plan on doing anything else.”
Camarillo said the support he’s received is humbling, and Cunningham said he is blessed to have received what he calls a once-in-a-lifetime award.
Camarillo said that police officers try to save as many lives as they can, and that anyone who is anti-police is wrong.
“We can make a difference and we can save lives, because that is our mission, not ending lives,” he said. “This is the purpose of law enforcement — why everybody relies on us because of the changing times.”
Cunningham said that when he first became a police officer, he never thought he would respond to a call of that type.
“It didn’t take long to figure out that you’re not just out there writing tickets,” he said. “I am absolutely happy that I was there to provide this service.”
Camarillo said that especially in today’s social climate there’s a trend that the roles of police officers are more to save lives than straight law enforcement.
“Most people tell you when they’re fresh out of the academy, they’re there to make a difference,” he said. “It’s beyond that. Our training has changed to reflect what is our new role. We try to save as many lives as we can.”