On the evening of June 27, Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Eagles awarded Lieutenant Greg Hartwig and Officer Matt Waid of the Merrill Police Department, with the Wisconsin State Aerie Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award, at their annual banquet in Fond du Lac.
The award is recognition of the duo’s life saving efforts during a call last summer.
On the evening of Friday August 1st at 9:20 p.m. the Lincoln County 911 Communications Center received a call of a male party who was not breathing on the city’s west side.
Waid, a six year department veteran, was only a few blocks from the origin of the call and immediately responded.
Upon arrival, Waid discovered the patient lacked a pulse and was not breathing.
In addition, he was informed every med unit of the Merrill Fire Department had been deployed to other calls. Waid immediately began CPR on the patient. Three minutes later, he was joined by Hartwig, a 25 year department veteran.
The two officers engaged in administering CPR and the use of an Artificial External Defribulator.
Upon arrival of a med unit and emergency medical staff at 9:27 p.m., the patient’s pulse had returned and was transported to a hospital for treatment.
Doctors later credited Hartwig and Waid’s efforts for saving the man’s life.
“I’ll never forget that night,” Waid recollects. “It’s something you don’t think about when you arrive to a situation like that. You just do what you know how to do without a second thought, that’s the best way I can explain it. It was sheer excitement when we found out everything was successful.”
“It was a great feeling to hear everything went well. Unfortunately things don’t always go well in those types of situations so it’s a pretty good feeling when it does.
“It’s not abnormal for police officers to be put in those situations. The average person may have to administer CPR once in their lifetime, but it’s a part of our job. We often times arrive before the paramedics, just due to an officer being in the vicinity. When we get there, we get to work with life saving measures right away and then we always try to follow up with medical staff, hoping for a positive outcome. Like I said, in cases like this it’s a great feeling to hear good news.”
The pair was informed last month by Chief Ken Neff, he had nominated the pair for the award.
“I was surprised to say the least,” Hartwig said. “I guess I just never expect or think about being recognized for doing my job. I appreciated it, but just didn’t expect it,” he adds with a bit of a smile.
“I thought it was very cool when I found out!” Waid adds with a broad grin of his own. “I wasn’t expecting any sort of recognition, I was surprised. But it’s also nice to be recognized sometimes.”
On the evening of the 27th, the two took part in an awards dinner along with another award recipient before being officially presented with their respective plaques.
“The hospitality from the Eagles Club was just amazing,” Waid explains. “I am just very appreciative of everything they did for us, they were great.”
“Although it felt a little odd for me to be up there receiving an award for doing my job, I am really appreciative of the Eagles Club for everything they did for us as well,” Hartwig adds. “In this day and age, it’s nice to see organizations like the Eagles recognize and appreciate the efforts of law enforcement and fire fighters for the jobs they do.”
Hartwig also cites the CPR/First Aid training provided by the Merrill Police Department, as well as the Merrill community for funding AED units which are now in every department vehicle.
“Without this training and equipment,” he said, “our officers would not be able to engage in life saving measures when a situation calls for it.”