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Thu, Apr 22nd, 2010
Posted in State of Minnesota

ST. PAUL - Four Minnesotans who pulled a driver out of a vehicle submerged in a pond and another citizen who went through flames to save an injured driver whose vehicle caught fire were among those recognized by the State Patrol on Tuesday, April 20, at its annual awards presentation. Each year, the Patrol honors citizens, troopers and State Patrol employees who performed life-saving acts or excelled in a crisis or in efforts to ensure safer Minnesota roads.

Sgt. Brian Polansky was named "2009 Trooper of the Year." The 23-year State Patrol veteran received the honor based on his leadership contributions to the agency, which include mentoring; teaching assisting allied agencies; managing a busy Minneapolis station; and filling in for troopers who need time off. Polansky also investigates fatal and serious injury crashes and demonstrates compassion and professionalism when notifying families of traffic deaths, according to his commander, Capt. Tom Fraser.

Fraser says Polansky has always been an active, involved employee striving to make Minnesota safer. "His file is full of commendations and letters of thanks from the public," says Fraser. "He's an outstanding representative of the State Patrol."

The State Patrol top DWI enforcer for 2009 was Trooper Jack Tiegs of the East Metro District. Tiegs arrested 133 drivers for DWI in 2009.

Recipients of the State Patrol "Life Saving Award" include:

Troopers Mark Fahning and Scott Kuphal - the pair responded to a driver involved in a crash with a medical condition on Hwy. 22 in LeSueur County. They performed CPR to keep the victim alive.

Trooper Brett Westbrook - he was off-duty when he noticed a potential suicide jumper on

Hwy. 70 near I-35. He worked with a Pine County deputy to pull the person off the bridge.

Trooper Mike Olson - he responded to a crash at I-694 and Hwy. 120 and used an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to rescue the injured crash victim.

Sgt. Kelly Phillips and Trooper Rachel Comer - the pair responded to a medical call on I-394 where they performed chest compressions and used an AED to save the victim.

Troopers Vaughn Ebbighausen and David Keenan - the pair responded to a medical call of a man having a heart attack on I-94 near Fergus Falls. They administered CPR and used an AED to save the man's life.

Trooper Ryan Marthaler - He responded to a suicide attempt in a garage in Yellow Medicine County. He woke the man in the vehicle then dragged him into the house to remove him from the toxic air.

The citizens awarded were:

Dale Cazett, Ryan Cordes, Christopher Eklund, Brad Paulson - They pulled a driver out of a vehicle submerged in a pond off of Hwy. 101 in Otsego. They attached a tow-strap to the vehicle and pulled the vehicle out with a truck.

Joesph Hesse and David Stans -they witnessed a crash on Hwy. 23 in Kandiyohi County and responded to the driver who had a head wound. They applied pressure to stop the bleeding, which saved the man's life.

Craig McGraw - he witnessed a serious injury crash near Sebeka in which a pickup truck ran through a stop sign and hit two semitrailers and caught on fire. McGraw used a fire extinguisher to put the fire out.

Roy Berg - he heard and responded to a crash in which the engine compartment was on fire. He went through the passenger side to save the woman before the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames.

"The people we honored demonstrate not only heroics, but a good spirit of Minnesotans helping one another out when in need," says Col. Mark Dunaski, chief of the State Patrol.

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