TPD honors life-saving heroes
Thomasville Police Department recognized four of its heroes who helped save the lives of citizens in need.
Chief Jeff Insley on July 16 honored officers Brent McDowell, Joshua Wolfe, Eric Hicks and Joseph Driggers with Life-Saving awards for being at the right place at the right time. All four men played a key role in saving the life of a person experiencing a medical emergency.
"It's a happy day to be able to recognize those who used their training and experience to benefit the community," Insley said. "You can't really describe it. It just makes you feel good all over."
Officers McDowell and Wolfe responded to an emergency call at 1145 Kendall Mill Road in the early morning hours of June 12. They arrived to find Eric Hockett desperately trying to revive his lifeless 4-month-old son, Hunter. The two officers, who have sons of their own, immediately started performing CPR on the infant, hoping for any signs of life.
"[CPR] is part of our training but when it happens to be a 4-month-old it changes the mindset obviously," McDowell said. Being side by side for the last three years, once we got there, it just kicked in. The biggest thing for me is God placed me there that day. He equipped me in due time to do my job and placed me there that day."
Over the next seven minutes, Hunter faded in and out as the officers refused to give up hope. For McDowell and Wolfe, only one outcome would be acceptable.
"I knew myself and Officer McDowell would do whatever it took and work as long as we could work to make sure Hunter came back to life," said Wolfe. "We were determined that we were not going to accept no for an answer. We have children of our own and I could imagine that being one of my own. We were determined to bring him back. it wasn't immediate. It was little here and there and it gave us hope to keep working harder to bring him all the way back."
Hunter eventually started breathing again and was on hand at Tuesday's ceremony. The three men and a baby shared a moment together for the first time since the near-death experience. For Hockett, words simply weren't enough.
"I'm just thankful that he's alive," Hockett said. "Thanks to officers Wolfe and McDowell I'm able to hold him here and celebrate these guys getting an award for the great things they've done. That's what being a police officer is all about, being able to protect and serve. I think they went above and beyond the call of duty. He means the world to me and these guys mean the world to me. It's a very emotional day."
Hockett presented the two life-saving officers with "Hunter's Hero" awards, armored shields made of crystal with the phrase "above and beyond" inscribed on it.
"The sheer power of life is what makes this so amazing," said McDowell. "To know he's still with us and his life will live on makes this all worth it."
Officer Hicks received his award for his role in saving a man in April who had gone into diabetic shock while driving on Interstate 85. Richard Oakes, 35, started losing consciousness behind the wheel and a 3-way telephone conversation allowed Hicks to speak with the man's 15-year-old son inside the truck. Oakes passed out but Hicks managed to chase down and stop the vehicle on foot at the off-ramp at Highway 311 before anyone suffered further injury.
"Getting awarded for our actions is paramount in our careers," Hicks said. "We're a family and this is the ultimate reward to be recognized by your peers for your actions. I didn't do what anyone would've done. We protect and serve and that's our goal every day."
Officer Driggers, who did not attend Tuesday's ceremony, helped save a small child who had eaten some of his mother's medication. Driggers, not wanting to wait for delayed emergency personnel to arrive, transported the child and his mother to the hospital where he was revived.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.