Texas DPS Personnel Receive Lifesaving Awards

"The individuals we honored today represent the true definition of public servants who are dedicated to saving lives, protecting the public and their communities, and making Texas a safer place to call home," said DPS Director Steven McCraw.

The Texas Public Safety Commission and Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw presented one Director's Citation, five Lifesaving Awards, and one Unit Citation to DPS employees during an Aug. 31 meeting at which several other DPS employees were recognized for their outstanding works. "The individuals we honored today represent the true definition of public servants who are dedicated to saving lives, protecting the public and their communities, and making Texas a safer place to call home," said McCraw. "I am honored to work alongside these members of the DPS family who exemplify our mission every day. It is truly a privilege to recognize their selfless service."

Trooper Calvin Starkie, Texas Highway Patrol–Newton, received a Director's Citation. On Feb. 5, 2018, Starkie was dispatched to a one-vehicle crash on SH 87 in Newton County. Upon arrival, he saw an SUV that was resting on its side in a deep creek. The terrain was steep and treacherous. After assessing the situation, Starkie relayed critical information to dispatch and first responders while also providing first aid to a Newton Police sergeant who had been injured trying to help the driver. Starkie and a firefighter secured the vehicle's position, then the trooper climbed on the hood, cut out the windshield, and used the "Jaws of Life" to access the driver. An experienced paramedic, Starkie evaluated the driver's injuries, placed a backboard under him, assisted in lifting him from the vehicle. The driver was transported to a medical center where he spent weeks in recovery.

Special Agent Jason Ernst, Criminal Investigations Division–Austin, received a Lifesaving Award. On Nov. 29, 2017, Agent Ernst was traveling in Williamson County when he received a report about an adult male slumped over the steering wheel of a vehicle parked on the shoulder of the road. Ernst responded to the scene where he found the male driver barely breathing and unconscious. Ernst was approached by an off-duty paramedic, Peter Wagner with the Round Rock Fire Department, who also began assisting. The driver no longer had a pulse, and together, the pair extracted the driver from the vehicle and began administering CPR. Williamson County EMS arrived on scene where they continued life-saving measures and transported the driver to a hospital for further treatment.

Trooper Natalie Wilson, Texas Highway Patrol–Cleburne, received a Lifesaving Award. On Jan. 14, 2018, Wilson was on routine patrol when she observed a vehicle traveling above the posted speed limit. She activated her emergency overhead lights, but the driver failed to stop and attempted to evade at an unsafe speed, losing control of the vehicle and subsequently rolling over. Wilson approached the crashed vehicle, which had begun smoking; the driver was unable to exit the vehicle on their own. With the engine compartment on fire, Wilson began kicking in the front windshield. As the fire became more intense, the driver crawled to the rear of the vehicle, where Wilson successfully shattered the back windshield. Immediately after Wilson pulled the driver out of the burning vehicle, it became fully engulfed by the fire and was destroyed.

Trooper Homer Villarreal, Texas Highway Patrol–Eagle Pass, received a Lifesaving Award. On June 15, 2018, Villarreal arrived at his residence and observed a crowd of people gathered by the pool area. After a bystander called for help, Villarreal saw a small child lying motionless near the pool; the child's lips and skin were blue-toned. Immediately, he began performing CPR and observed that with each compression the child expelled water through his mouth and nose. As the trooper continued to administer first aid to the child, EMS arrived on scene. The child was transported to a medical center, where he was placed in intensive care and is now progressing in his recovery. After reviewing video surveillance, it was determined that the child had been underwater for approximately four minutes before being pulled out of the water.

Trooper Ethan McAdoo, Texas Highway Patrol–New Caney, received a Lifesaving Award. On Nov. 23, 2017, McAdoo responded to a shots fired call at a residence in Montgomery County. As he arrived at the home to assist the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, McAdoo observed a male gunshot victim lying on the floor of the garage. He immediately applied pressure to stop the profuse bleeding, then applied a tourniquet to the victim's upper leg to successfully control the bleeding. When EMS and fire personnel arrived, they noted that McAdoo's quick actions increased the victim's chance of survival. The victim was transported to a hospital in critical condition, and after undergoing surgery, was listed in stable condition.

Trooper Briar Cordova, Texas Highway Patrol–Amarillo, received a Lifesaving Award. On April 17, 2018, Cordova was en route to his home when he heard a radio broadcast advising that someone was about to jump from an overpass crossing on I-40. He responded to the scene and found a woman sitting on the edge of the overpass with both of her legs hanging over. Cordova was approached by two good Samaritans, Amy Brown and Jeffery Graham, who were already on scene and speaking to the woman. Cordova was advised that the woman was upset and had reportedly gone off her medication. After the trooper formulated a plan, Brown distracted the woman and Graham worked with Cordova to simultaneously grab the woman and pull her to safety.

The Victim and Employee Support Services received a Unit Citation. VESS is a workgroup of 18 licensed mental health professionals and two administrative assistants. Since August 2017, VESS has responded to five major incidents with widespread impact, including: Hurricane Harvey, the Sutherland Springs shooting, the line-of-duty deaths of Trooper Damon Allen and Trooper Thomas Nipper, and the Santa Fe High School shooting. The employees commended for their hard work and dedication included: Melissa Atwood, Tom Cooper, Marty Elkins, Roberta Farley, Patty Galvan, Jesica Grimes, Celesta Harris, Kristin Ipes, Dave Knight, Alicia Kovac, Roxanne Mata, Alisa McDonald, Brigette O'Reilly, Kathy Smith, Glenda Sosby, Ray Tarpley, Belinda Taylor, Bunny Terrell, Sumer Wassef and Melanie Webb.

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