Champaign County deputies honored for going above and beyond

Champaign County deputies honored for going above and beyond

URBANA — Champaign County sheriff's Deputy Corey Pankow didn't expect to save a life when he started his shift Dec. 18.

"It wasn't actually my area of work," said Pankow, explaining the night he responded to the 911 call for a possible drug overdose in the 2400 block of East Washington Street in Urbana.

Pankow had only one year of patrol experience when he discovered an unresponsive man lying against a bathroom door, surrounded by syringes and heroin residue.

"He was completely white," Pankow said.

After administering two doses of the opioid re-versal drug Narcan, Pankow was able to stabilize the 22-year-old, who was then taken to the hospital by paramedics.

"I gave him one dose of Narcan, but it wasn't working very fast," Pankow said. "His mother had another dose from the health department, and I drew it from a vial and gave it to him in his arm. I've never done that before."

Pankow said it was the first time he had ever given Narcan, and he was only trained to administer the nasal spray version. However, he knew what needed to be done to save the victim's life, he said.

"I was sure it was the same product," he said. "I knew there's no limit to how much Narcan you can give someone to try and get them back to life. That's exactly what they told us in training — you can't mess it up."

The non-addictive nasal spray medication doesn't remove drugs from the system, but it does restore breathing long enough for EMS to arrive. Pankow said the victim was definitely brought back to life and was walking on his own when he became conscious.

The outcome would likely not have been as positive before 2015, when deputies did not have immediate access to Narcan. Now, all patrol cars carry it.

Pankow's heroics in the face of a life-threatening event earned him a "Life Saving Award," presented Wednesday by sheriff's Capt. Shane Cook at the Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana.

Other deputies recognized Wednesday included:

— The day shift, led by Sgt. Jeff Vercler, for their help in pursuing Richard Stover, wanted for the murder of his mother and the robbery of a Champaign Walgreens.

"It was a high-speed chase and, just to make it even more interesting, it was in the middle of a snowstorm," Sheriff Dan Walsh said of the Dec. 29 pursuit of the now-convicted murderer serving a 55-year prison sentence.

After the killing, Stover fled his mother's home by ramming a Champaign police squad car, and led dozens of officers from multiple agencies on a pursuit through west Champaign and west of town out into the county for several hours before crashing the car he was driving near Mahomet's high school.

Honored for their teamwork that day were Vercler and deputies Ted Nemecz, who fired at Stover's vehicle in an unsuccessful attempt to stop him, Doug Bialeschki, Tracy Wagner, Richard Ferriman, Brad Atkinson and Shawn Hallett.

— Deputy Rob DeRouchie, with a "Life Saving Award" for resuscitating another victim of a heroin overdose with Narcan on Jan. 2.

— Deputies Cody Fordyce and Billy Pryor, who were commended for performing CPR on a victim of a two-vehicle crash Jan. 5 until emergency medical responders could take over.

— Deputy Chelsey Keyes, who was recognized for her investigation in December of a battery to a 15-month-old child. She kept in close touch with the family by visiting and even gave them Christmas gifts.

Walsh, Chief Deputy Allen Jones and Cook gave each officer a certificate and a pin to honor their acts of heroism.

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