They help residents in their most desperate time of need — a medical emergency, a burning house, a home invasion or robbery.
It’s the duty of police officers, firefighters and paramedics to help.
“They see our residents at the time they are needed most,” Plymouth City Manager Paul Sincock said. “It’s not a job. It’s a calling.”
Plymouth city and township officials honored the year’s top public safety officers Friday during a Plymouth Rotary Club luncheon at the Plymouth Cultural Center.
- Dave Edwards, Police Officer of the Year for the city of Plymouth.
Edwards seemed destined to become a police officer. He is a fourth-generation officer on his father’s side of the family and has other law enforcement relatives on his mother’s side.
Plymouth Public Safety Director Al Cox lauded Edwards for showing “great leadership and quick thinking” in August, when he led the response to a tense, four-hour situation involving a suspect who claimed he had a bomb at an apartment complex. Turned out it was a prank, but police didn’t know that until Edwards mounted a response team that was able to get inside the residence.
Cox also said Edwards, a road patrol officer, is an instructor for the department’s Roadwise program, which teaches officers the best ways to stay safe when they are working on cases that cause them to be outside their police cars along roadways.
Edwards also was singled out for his training in ARIDE, a program that teaches officers to recognize in motorists the signs not only of alcohol consumption, but also drug usage — a skill Cox said can get problem drivers off the road and potentially save lives.
Cox said Edwards has “excelled in all of his duties and, as a result, has become “an informal leader within our department and has earned the respect of both his peers and command officers, alike.”
- Brad Bartram, Police Officer of the Year for Plymouth Township.
Police Chief Tom Tiderington said Bartram is a prime example of police officers who not only do their jobs well on a daily basis, but also take on extra responsibilities. He said it’s a dangerous job.
“Every day these officers put their uniforms on and it may be their last,” Tiderington said.
Tiderington said Bartram was a high school and collegiate wrestler who works with high school students as a wrestling coach and a mentor. As a police officer, Bartram is among the few officers who is a certified drug-recognition expert, meaning he can spot a motorist who may be using prescription drugs or marijuana, above and beyond a typical drunken driving incident.
It’s a skill officials say is increasingly relevant amid the opioid crisis.
In announcing Bartram for his award, Tiderington also mentioned a case involving a mother who had accidentally locked her four-month-old baby in a car in a grocery store parking lot — a mother whose worries were relieved after she received the help she needed to reunite with her child.
- Chris Helinski, Firefighter of the Year for the city of Plymouth.
Fire Chief Steve Ott said Helinski’s leadership includes a project to build three-feet-tall houses the fire department uses to demonstrate how fires build inside a home and how to strike back to minimize safety threats. Ott said the houses were initially used for firefighter training, but also have been used for public demonstrations during Fire Prevention Week open houses in Plymouth and Northville.
“He’s an ideas guy,” Ott said of Helinski, adding that Helinski is a “perfectionist” who insists on “getting the job done and getting it done right.”
Helinski also is chief of operations of the Plymouth Department of Municipal Services. Ott said Helinski’s knowledge in that capacity complements his role as firefighter because he knows where all the fire hydrants and water mains are located.
Ott said Helinski also finds buildings that are ready for demolition so the fire department can use those locations for training exercises. Helinski also is involved in developing a comprehensive pump operations training program.
- Chris Smith, Firefighter of the Year for Plymouth Township.
Fire Chief Dan Phillips said Smith once worked in the south as a border patrol agent for the Department of Homeland Security. He joined the Plymouth Township Fire Department as a paid, on-call firefighter after he received his training from Schoolcraft College.
Then, in 2014, Smith was hired as a full-time firefighter.
“Chris was the No. 1 candidate that we interviewed,” Phillips said. “I knew he was a great catch, so we hired him full time.”
Phillips recalled one incident involving a man whose heart stopped beating while he was playing baseball. Smith got to the scene quickly and helped rescue the man until he could be taken to a hospital.
“He’s alive today,” Phillips said.
He also lauded Smith for teaching CPR to residents and businesses and said he can depend on Smith to volunteer for extra duties.
“I know I can depend on Chris Smith,” Phillips said.
- Josh Cousino, Paramedic of the Year for Huron Valley Ambulance.
Andy Savage, HVA’s vice president for eastern operations, said he was Cousino’s first on-the-job partner. Savage said Cousino became a critical care paramedic in 2016 and currently works HVA’s mobile intensive care unit.
Savage recalled how Cousino once encountered a patient who frequently needed to be transported for medical appointments and was in need of a wheelchair ramp at home.
“On his own, he rallied volunteers from his church to get the ramp built,” Savage said.
Cousino worked with area lumber suppliers and was able to get a wheelchair ramp built for that patient and another patient in need.
Savage said Cousino never shies away from putting in long hours.
“When the need for this (mobile intensive care) unit arises, no matter what time in the shift, they must go and there is no chance of getting relieved by another unit,” Savage said. “So, Josh gets off (work) late more frequently than any of us would like.”
Savage called Cousino “one of the most caring individuals I know.”
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