poam police officer of the yearOn July 1, 2020, while making his foot patrol at the Howell High School, Howell Police Officer Andrew VanBuskirk heard noises coming from the thick foliage swamp area just east of the school. Officer VanBuskirk could not see anyone but was able to discern that it was a male who sounded in distress and possibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Officer VanBuskirk called for backup and medical personnel. Once Officer VanBuskirk got closer to the subject and was able to talk with him, it was apparent the subject was not aware of his situation or surroundings. The subject was also unable to stand up or move out of the position he was in. While waiting for the EMS and Fire Department, Officer VanBuskirk stayed in verbal contact with the subject.

Once the fire department arrived, Officer VanBuskirk donned a wet suit he was given and entered the swamp with fire department members. The subject was lying prone and was waist-deep in water and mud. At this time, the man did identify himself, but Officer VanBuskirk now realized he was already familiar with the trapped man from prior contacts. Officer VanBuskirk and the other rescue personnel were able to get the man unstuck and out of the swamp. The man was in shock, hypothermic, and had low blood sugar. He was unable to tell Officer VanBuskirk how he ended up in the swamp. The subject was transported to the University of Michigan hospital where he was expected to make a full recovery.

Officer Andrew VanBuskirk
Officer Andrew VanBuskirk giving a speech after accepting his Police Officer of the Year Award.

It was subsequently found out that the subject had been in Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital Livingston for an alcohol-related seizure incident. He had ripped out his I.V., checked himself out of the hospital, and said he was going to walk home. It is apparent he got mired in the swamp very soon after he had left the hospital and had been there for approximately 48 hours.

Officer Andrew VanBuskirk Awarded The POAM Officer of the Year Award

As a result of Officer VanBuskirk’s professionalism, quick thinking in assessing the situation, and without regard for his own personal safety he took appropriate action that resulted in the saving of human life. For your bravery and exceptional police work, the Police Officers Association of Michigan presents you with the 2020 Police Officers of the Year Award.

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