St. Louis County recognizes ‘Lifesaver’ heroesDave Lamwers awoke at 3 a.m. May 29 to the sound of people yelling on the water outside his Lake Vermilion resort and at first assumed it was a boatload of fishermen having a good time.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
Dave Lamwers awoke at 3 a.m. May 29 to the sound of people yelling on the water outside his Lake Vermilion resort and at first assumed it was a boatload of fishermen having a good time.
It turned out to be a boatload of trouble.
Lamwers quickly realized it wasn’t revelry but panicked calls for help, so he jumped into his boat and went about rescuing three women and a man who were in the cold water after a boating accident. He hadn’t thought to grab a flashlight, so he navigated to each victim by sound, turning off his motor each time to pinpoint their location in the dark. Lamwers then hauled each of them in over the side of his boat.
“And if you’ve ever tried lifting someone up into a boat, that in itself is an amazing feat,” said St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman. “He did this all while trying to keep the other victims in the boat under control so he could continue the rescue.”
Lamwers brought the four victims back to his resort, where he and his wife treated their hypothermia until paramedics arrived. Lamwers later helped direct crews to the rescue area where the body of a fifth victim was found.
On Tuesday in the St. Louis County commissioners’ boardroom, Litman presented Lamwers with one of six “Lifesaver” awards, an annual recognition the county presents to citizens, deputies, firefighters, 911 operators and others credited with heroic actions.
The awards were presented in conjunction with National Telecommunications Week honoring 911 staff, and Litman noted that the county’s 43 emergency communications specialists handled 244,540 calls in 2011 from across the county’s 7,092 square miles.
The 911 communicators are a vital link, Litman said, between citizens and visitors in need of emergency help and the 185 fire, law enforcement and rescue agencies across the county.
The other Lifesaver awards went to:
Olson arrived to find the man outside his car but clearly struggling, unable to move against the river’s current. Olson immediately jumped in and pulled the man safely to shore. Other rescuers went back to the car to retrieve the man’s dog, and Olson was credited with saving the man who otherwise might have been swept away.
She was credited with saving several lives by getting emergency responders to the scene quickly and by helping the victims.
Makowski is also a trained emergency medical technician and was called upon to perform CPR on the victim, Steve Jones. Makowski continued to assist in the ambulance. Jones, after an extended hospital stay, has recovered and attended Tuesday’s award ceremony.
Suliin continued to talk to the man, who began to panic and who feared he would die from his injuries, with Suliin repeatedly assuring the man that help was on the way. Suliin was able to better pinpoint the victim’s location and dispatched help to the scene, where the man had fallen about 30 feet down an embankment. A Minnesota State Patrol trooper was first on the scene.
The victim’s femur was broken and he was badly bleeding, but he was rescued in time and recovered.
Manis took the intruder to the Ely Bloomenson Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries suffered in the earlier fight. But as Manis was later transporting him to the county jail in Virginia, Manis noticed unusual behavior indicating serious injuries. She took the intruder to the Virginia hospital.
The man was immediately air-lifted to a Duluth hospital, where he had brain surgery because his brain was bleeding. Manis is credited with noticing the problem; doctors said the man would have died if he hadn’t received timely treatment.