Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ithaca College police officers given award for lifesaving efforts www.privateofficer.com

Ithaca NY Dec 20 2011 -- An Ithaca College student who overdosed on prescription medication is still alive today due to the quick response of two college police officers. To honor that response, Sgt. Terry O'Pray and Patrol Officer Jay VanVolkinburg were given the Kiwanis Club's Frank G. Hammer Officer of the Month Award at a ceremony Monday in Ithaca.

By the time the officers had been dispatched to Clarke Hall early on Oct. 14, the student's skin had turned a bluish color.

"He was really, really in a life-threatening emergency," O'Pray said. The drug he had taken, Opanna, is an oxymorphine prescribed as a pain reliever. It is also abused recreationally, as was the case that morning. "We're starting to see some abuse of some prescription substances," O'Pray said. "I think the students at times underestimate the potential and don't realize it could literally kill them."

That outcome could easily have happened had it not been for the officers, according to Public Safety Director Terri Stewart. O'Pray and VanVolkinburg administered rescue breathing while assessing vital signs and maintaining an open airway, she said. "They are two great talents. I am really proud of the team we have when it comes to EMS."

Providing first-response medical attention is a part of the job and, luckily for the student, one the pair does particularly well. VanVolkinburg, who worked for 20 years with the Ithaca Police Department, is also a registered nurse, and O'Pray has EMT experience.

"It's sort of a routine thing," O'Pray said of the rescue. While routine, it makes the job worthwhile to have had "a very specific impact on that young man's life," O'Pray said, "and to make sure he is still around today."


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