Four court security officers from the federal building on North Main Street in Uptown Butte were recognized Tuesday for their efforts in helping to save a man’s life.
The four — Brian Gasch, Katie Graham, John Christie and Mark Anderson —were honored during an afternoon ceremony on the steps of the Mike Mansfield Federal Building and United States Courthouse for their actions on Jan. 30, 2017 that helped revive a man who nearly succumbed to a medical emergency.
Dan Vierthaler, district supervisor for Inter-Con Security, a contractor who provides security services for the federal courthouse and similar sites, said officer Christie noticed something wasn’t right on the morning of Jan. 30 when he saw a car approach the courthouse and park in front of the building.
From a security camera, Vierthaler said, Christie could see inside the car and witnessed what appeared to be a man having a medical emergency inside the vehicle. The officer notified Gasch, Graham and Anderson, who rushed to check on the man, gave him CPR and treated him with a defibrillator.
Jeff Miller, fire chief for the Butte-Silver Bow Fire Department, said firefighters were dispatched to the scene around 10:30 a.m. When they arrived, the man had just been treated with the defibrillator and was still unresponsive. Emergency personnel began helping the man breathe with a bag valve and were about to insert a breathing tube when the man regained consciousness.
Miller told The Montana Standard Monday that early intervention is key to having a positive outcome when treating someone suffering from cardiac arrest. In fact, the American Heart Association notes that interventions like CPR “if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.”
Arch Arntson, a first responder with Butte’s A-1 Ambulance, has led the charge in honoring the four court security officers.
To commemorate their actions and the actions of other life-saving civil servants and first responders, Arntson came up with a new award, called the Copper Heart Hero Award, to be handed out to firefighters, police officers, ambulance personnel and court security officers who have saved a life.
Butte-Silver Bow, meanwhile, helped pay for Copper Heart lapel pins that will symbolize the award. Arntson and others handed out four of the pins Tuesday to Gasch, Graham, Christie and Anderson — the first recipients of the award.
Vierthaler said what was notable about the 2017 incident was how fast the four officers responded. In all, the incident lasted about 5 minutes before the ambulance arrived, said Vierthaler, who reviewed security footage of the medical emergency.
Anderson said getting recognition for helping to save the man’s life was “hugely unexpected,” but felt great nonetheless.
“We’re just doing what we’re trained to do,” said Anderson, who worked 30 years as a game warden before becoming a court security officer.
Gasch, meanwhile, formally served 15 years in federal law enforcement. He’s also the fire chief of the Basin Volunteer Fire Department.
“The Lord’s hand was on that gentleman that day because it put everyone in the right place at the right time,” said Gasch, noting that Anderson happened to be walking next to the defibrillator when the incident took place.
Graham and Christie formerly worked as police officers for Butte-Silver Bow, and they both said getting recognition for the events of 2017 was something they didn’t expect.
“It was kind of out of the blue,” said Christie, adding that receiving the award was “humbling.”
Graham was the first to arrive at the man’s aid.
She said she wasn’t really worried when the incident took place but was instead focused on taking action.
“At the time you’re just busy trying to help,” she said.
Arntson, meanwhile, addressed a crowd of about 20 people who came out to commemorate the occasion, including Miller, Vierthaler, Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Dave Palmer and Sheriff Ed Lester.
“Today we come here to honor these four for their life-saving skills,” said Arntson.
“Being (from) a copper-mining town, we felt that a copper heart would look great on their lapel,” he continued. “It is because of the group action of these four people that this person… was able to walk out of St. James (Healthcare) a few days later with no neurological deficits. These people truly are our copper heroes.”
The name of the man who suffered the medical emergency has not been released.