Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong last name for Senior Correctional Deputy Shawna Schaffer of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.
Lifesavers, cold case-crackers, loyal staff and citizen volunteers were all recognized for their service at a general assembly awards ceremony at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Honor Farm on Thursday.
Before a packed house, Sheriff Ian Parkinson and Undersheriff Tim Olivas presented 30 deputies, technicians and volunteers with medals and certificates for lifesaving, service commendations, forensic excellence, employee performance and volunteer recognition.
Four lifesaving medals were awarded. One recipient, Deputy Gower Slane, has been with the department since September 2002. He was honored for his efforts in a March 2013 incident, after he was dispatched to a report of a victim trapped under a vehicle. The victim was an off-duty CHP officer.
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Slane was the first to arrive to the scene and found the victim had been removed from the vehicle and was receiving CPR from his wife. Slane immediately applied his automatic external defibrillator and began to administer CPR until medical personnel arrived. Unfortunately, the victim’s injuries were too severe, and he died.
“Deputy Slane’s fast response and medical aid rendered in the most trying of circumstances are commendable and deserving of his recognition in this award today,” Undersheriff Tim Olivas said.
Another set of lifesaving awards was handed out to Correctional Deputies Mathew Andrews, Albert Ybarra and Jacob Domingos for preventing the suicide of an inmate who attempted to choke himself with a towel.
A total of 13 commendations were handed out. Senior Correctional Deputies John Hager and Shawna Schaffer, Correctional Deputies Andrews and Ashley Egland and nurse Barbara Bullock were a few of the recipients for a September 2013 incident that began when an inmate complained of chest pain. Andrews and Hager responded to the inmate’s cell and placed him in a recovery position. The inmate’s body went limp, and he was unresponsive. Egland responded and retrieved the defibrillator while Hager retrieved the oxygen tank.
Bullock rushed to the inmate reception center to evaluate the inmate and requested an ambulance. Andrews applied the patches to the inmate’s chest while England engaged the defibrillator. Schaffer arrived and helped Bullock administer oxygen until the ambulance arrived.
The five “demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and team work during the incident,” Olivas said. “Their performance is appreciated and deserving of this commendation.”
In another instance, forensic evidence technician Penny Rau, as well as Correctional Deputies Andrews and Jason Hall, discovered previously unseen fingerprints on evidence while conducting a routine inventory of the evidence room. The discovery resulted in the arrest of a suspect in a cold burglary case that had resulted in significant loss and provided a good example of how different divisions within the Sheriff’s Office can work together, Parkinson said.
Each was honored with an award for Forensic Excellence.
In addition, the Sheriff’s Advisory Foundation awarded honors to 10 employees for their years of service.
Parkinson said that the awards are voted on by a committee led by Sgt. Sandra Leber, not the Sheriff Office’s top brass.
“These aren’t awards we’re picking. These are awards that their peers are picking, so that makes this even more exciting,” Parkinson said, adding that he’s constantly impressed with the number of commendations that come in from the community every month for the Sheriff's Office’s nearly 160 sworn officers.