Deputy Brian Matthews
Van Buren County (MI) Sheriff’s Office
Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has announced the selection of Deputy Brian Matthews, of the Van Buren County (MI) Sheriff’s Office, as the recipient of its Officer of the Month Award for June 2014.
On March 2, 2013, after completing a week’s training in Arizona, 19 newly certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) trained officers and instructors were on a flight back to Michigan. An hour after takeoff, a flight attendant called for a medically trained passenger to assist another passenger in need. DRE Deputy Brian Matthews offered to help.
Deputy Matthews recognized the passenger in distress as a fellow officer, Muskegon (MI) Police Officer John Burns, who had just completed the DRE training as well. Deputy Matthews stabilized Officer Burns using the limited equipment he had on hand and assessed that Officer Burns was suffering a stroke. Realizing that his condition was worsening, Deputy Matthews informed the flight attendant that Officer Burns needed immediate medical attention and advised that the aircraft should make an emergency landing.
The pilot safely landed the plane in Des Moines, Iowa. Deputy Matthews stayed with Officer Burns, improvised an oxygen mask from an overhead compartment mask and kept Officer Burns as comfortable as possible during the landing. Deputy Matthews directed another fellow officer to take notes of his assessment to give emergency medical personnel on the ground.
Officer Burns, who was unconscious at this time, was immediately transported to a Level 1 Trauma/Stroke facility in downtown Des Moines. With the information provided by the notes of the assessment, hospital personnel estimated that 83 minutes had passed from the time the symptoms began to the time medical personnel administered the medicine, Tissue Plasminogen Activator (t-PA), which is most effective when administered within three hours of the onset of symptoms in order to reduce the impact of the stroke. If Deputy Matthews had not taken the quick action in requesting an emergency landing, the plane’s next stop would have been Chicago, which would have likely been too late for the medicine to work effectively. Two days after the incident, Officer Burns was walking with assistance, though he still showed signs of the stroke.
Deputy Brian Matthews has served with the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office for six years and has over 12 years of experience in law enforcement. He was recently certified as one of only 50 DREs in the state of Michigan. He is currently assigned to traffic enforcement as well as taking on the duties of Traffic Accident Investigator, Crime Scene Technician, and Honor Guard member. He was awarded the Department’s “Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office 2012 Deputy of the Year” Award.
“As coworkers at the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, we are all extremely proud of Deputy Matthews being named the June Officer of the month,” said Sheriff Dale Gribler, Van Buren County (MI) Sheriff’s Office. “Deputy Matthews is a fine recipient of this prestigious award and is an officer who gives his absolute best every day in service to his community.”
Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Award Program began in 1996 and recognizes federal, state, and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Deputy Brian Matthews, along with the other Officer of the Month Award winners for 2014, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2015, during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s annual calendar.
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.