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Three Linn County deputies were honored for their extraordinary acts in 2016. Deputy Alex Steffens was awarded the Medal of Valor for a peaceful resolution of a potentially lethal confrontation with an armed and dangerous adversary. Deputies Brandon Stone and Jim Tindal received the Life Saving commendation award for their actions that were instrumental in saving the lives of two different people. The deputies were recognized at Linn County’s Quarterly Employee Recognition Breakfast in February 2017.
Here are their stories:
Medal of Valor: Deputy Alex Steffens
On January 19 around 8:16 p.m., the Linn County Sheriff’s Office dispatched deputies to a domestic disturbance call in Alburnett. The participants’ adolescent son was the caller who stated that his intoxicated father had a gun and he was scared for his mother’s safety. Deputy Alex Steffens was the first to arrive on scene, using all of the proper patrol techniques for this type of call. As he approached the residence, Alex observed two subjects standing at the entrance to the garage, but due to the darkness and blowing snow, he was unable to clearly see them. Alex illuminated the couple with his flashlight and immediately observed the male holding an assault rifle. The man then turned the rifle and pointed it at Alex. Alex had been at this home a week earlier, so he was familiar with the residents, and immediately recognized the man now pointing the rifle at him. Alex brought his pistol up and took aim as he immediately began giving verbal commands for the man to drop the weapon, by first identifying himself by full name, then calling the man by his first name. At this same time, Alex got on his portable radio and advised dispatch what was occurring.
Alex immediately realized that taking lethal action against this person, being in such close proximity to his wife and with the reduced visibility, might actually place her in danger of being struck by stray rounds. Instead, Alex moved so as to place a large tree between them, exposing him to less danger. After approximately 35 seconds of this standoff, Alex lost view of the man as he backed into his garage. Alex then repositioned himself behind a nearby vehicle and continued to issue verbal commands for him to drop the gun and surrender.
After a few more moments, the man’s wife advised that he had put the gun down. While continuing to hold him at gunpoint, Alex directed him to come out of the garage slowly with his arms out, directed him to his knees, then proned him out on the ground. Other deputies arrived on scene at this time and assisted in taking the man into custody. Once in custody, he was observed wearing a bag containing six additional loaded magazines, with a total of 171 rounds, including those found in the rifle.
The man was subsequently charged with Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon and Interference with Official Acts While Displaying a Dangerous Weapon and transported to jail.
After reviewing the reports as well as the in-car video recordings, it is clear that Alex did an outstanding job throughout this entire incident, both through the use of his tactical training and his verbal interaction with the man, which helped in creating a sense of personalization during the encounter. All of this contributed to a peaceful resolution of this potentially lethal confrontation.
Because of his actions, Sheriff Brian Gardner awarded Deputy Alex Steffens the Medal of Valor for affecting an outstanding arrest where his effort was met by an armed and dangerous adversary.
Life Saving Commendation Award: Deputy Brandon Stone
On May 12 around 5:54 p.m., Deputy Brandon Stone was assisting the 5th floor control deputy with the lockout procedure following the evening meal in the jail. While locking out the inmates in C Block, Brandon noticed that an inmate had not come out of his cell to stand count. The door lock was popped again and inmates who were standing nearby went to the cell to tell the inmate to come out. The other inmates then began screaming that the inmate was hanging and needed help. The 5th floor control deputy immediately called out a suicide attempt, while Brandon responded to the cell.
When Brandon arrived, he observed the inmate in a sitting position, leaning with a torn piece of bedsheet around his neck that had been tied off to an item in the cell that had been manipulated to defeat the breakaway security feature. Brandon used the suicide knife to cut the bedsheet, at which time the inmate began to make gasping sounds and took shallow breaths while displaying tremors.
Additional staff arrived and provided medical care until ambulance and rescue personnel arrived. The inmate was transported to the hospital where he was admitted overnight for observation, but returned the next day and was placed on suicide watch.
Although several staff members responded and assisted with this incident, Brandon’s actions were instrumental in saving the life of this inmate. For that reason, Sheriff Brian Gardner awarded Deputy Brandon Stone with the Life Saving commendation award.
Life Saving Commendation Award: Deputy Jim Tindal
During the early evening hours on August 14, the Sheriff’s Office dispatched emergency responders to the report of an elderly male who had passed out and was unresponsive in his Center Point residence. Deputy Jim Tindal was in the area and was the first to arrive on scene. Jim located the patient face down, saw blood and mucous draining from the patient’s airway, and observed occasional weak attempts at breathing. After recognizing breathing was inadequate, Jim turned the patient onto his back, found no pulse, and immediately started chest compressions. Once other rescuers arrived on scene, Jim’s AED was connected to the victim as he continued to perform chest compressions. Once the AED was activated, the patient was given 3 cycles of shock followed by 2 minutes of CPR, after which an organized heart rhythm was restored and the patient began breathing on his own. He was subsequently transported to the hospital where he recovered from this incident.
It was between 7-8 minutes from the time of call to the delivery of the first shock. The CPR that Jim performed in the interim was likely instrumental in keeping the patient’s heart perfused with oxygenated blood so that it was able to be shocked into a normal perfusing rhythm.
Although several emergency responders assisted in this medical emergency, Jim’s direct actions were instrumental in saving this person’s life. Because of his actions, Sheriff Brian Gardner awarded Deputy Jim Tindal the Life Saving commendation award.