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Public safety agencies honor Officers of the Year

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One coincidence and one mistake put Wilson Fire and Rescue Capt. Jourdon Pope in a position to help save a man’s life.

Pope stopped at the Handy Mart convenience store across from the city of Wilson Operations Center on Herring Avenue after his shift April 11 and pulled up to the wrong gas pump. After realizing his mistake and moving over for another customer, he spotted a pickup truck on the other side of the road and suddenly walked over.

“I had an inner voice that told me, ‘You need to get out of your truck,’” Pope said. “I don’t know what it was, but I listened.”

The driver was slumped over the steering wheel, his face turning blue. He had just suffered a debilitating seizure.

Pope asked the man who had been behind him at Handy Mart to call 911 before breaking the truck’s back window and checking the distressed driver for a pulse.

Finding none, he retrieved an automated external defibrillator from his own vehicle. Pope enlisted the help of his fellow customer and an operations center security guard to perform CPR while he administered an electric current to restore the patient’s heartbeat.

Firefighters and paramedics joined them. The patient was transferred to Wilson Medical Center, then to Rex Hospital in Raleigh, where doctors found a 75 percent blockage in his heart valves.

Three weeks later, Pope received a call from the man’s wife. He had been released from the hospital and was coming home. She was grateful.

“It meant a lot,” Pope said. “It gave me chills. I never looked at it as being a hero because I feel that it’s my job. That’s what I’m trained to do.”

Fire Chief Donald Oliver chose Pope as one of two recipients for his department’s Wilson Golden Circle Optimist Club Officer of the Year Award.

“His noble actions led to an outcome that saved someone’s life,” Oliver said.

Leaders from five public safety agencies — the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Wilson Police Department, Wilson Fire and Rescue, Wilson County EMS and N.C. Highway Patrol — recognized their officers of the year in a Thursday evening banquet at Something Different.

The fire department’s other honoree, firefighter Greg Henry, donated a kidney to his sister March 21. Henry’s sister has suffered from kidney failure since birth, Oliver said.

Following a March 21 surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, both Henry and his sibling are in good health.

“The act Greg demonstrated shows not only his view of family, but also his willingness to help someone else — especially in their time of need,” Oliver said.

Sheriff Calvin Woodard Jr. recognized Deputy Tanyanika S. Wiggins for her work with victims of domestic violence.

“She’s spent countless hours assisting victims,” Woodard said. “I know as law enforcement it’s our job, but she went beyond that.”

Wiggins notifies victims before their ex-parte domestic violence protective orders expire to allow them time to relocate or apply for new orders. A former correctional officer at Central Prison in Raleigh, Wiggins has embraced her new duties since joining the sheriff’s office in 2013 and completing basic law enforcement training.

“Law enforcement cares about you,” Woodard said, sharing his message for victims of family violence. “There is someone who will stand behind you to make sure you get the proper care and treatment.”

The Wilson Police Department honored K-9 officer Holly Evans for her role in community policing and her volunteer work.

“Officer Evans is an inspiring young leader who works tirelessly to instill positive values in the youth of Wilson,” said Capt. Winston Harris, who presented her award.

Evans has completed more than 15 K-9 demonstrations and is active in the Police Athletic League and WPD Explorers post. She’s also assisted with a Boys & Girls Club gang prevention program.

Third-generation state trooper Daniel C. Harrell received the Officer of the Year Award for the Highway Patrol’s Troop C, District 5 office. His father, Larry Harrell, and grandfather, Tom Cherry, inspired him in his career choice.

Since he was sworn in on May 30, 2014, Harrell has proven himself as a lawman and is quick to assist his fellow troopers, said 1st Sgt. Wayne Finch.

“Daniel has established himself,” Finch said. “Daniel’s work ethic most likely comes natural to him.”

Wilson County EMS honored Capt. Brenda Dew, its training officer, for her work in molding skilled and compassionate medics since taking over training duties in 1992.

“Captain Dew has worked tirelessly and has done an exceptional job in her 29 years with EMS,” said Director Terry Barber. “Her efforts have significantly contributed to the state-of-the-art out-of-hospital care we are able to provide to all Wilson County residents and visitors.”

During the Officer of the Year banquet, students and principals from Wilson County high schools presented their school resource officers with appreciation awards.

Edith Ward of the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf, Johnnie Coleman of Beddingfield High, Brandon Hickman from Hunt High and Scott Drew from Fike High were honored for their service to students, faculty and staff.

District Court Judge William G. Stewart received an award congratulating him on his retirement following a career as an attorney, prosecutor and judge. Stewart’s four-year term on the Judicial District 7A bench expires this year.

The Golden Circle Optimists also recognized public servants with ties to the Wilson civic club. Craig Moss, a highway safety specialist with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, Michael Sumner, a battalion commander for Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, and Phil Batts, chief of the Silver Lake Fire Department, received club member connection appreciation awards.

Frank Perry, North Carolina’s secretary of public safety, served as the event’s keynote speaker.

“Law enforcement today, sadly and perhaps rightly, they are a bit social workers,” Perry said. “They are a bit ministers, counselors, guardians — sometimes warriors.”

Perry noted that FBI analysts have determined public safety workers’ psychological profiles closely match those of pastors and clergy members.

“It is indeed a mean and dangerous world,” he said, “but we thank God for people like you.”

cfriedman@wilsontimes.com | 265-7813

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