On Monday, Feb. 17, during a GRCC Board of Trustees meeting, Officer Ryan Ford and Officer Martin Ruiz were honored with a Lifesaving Award for their part in assisting Officer Thomas Stasiak when he was choking on a clump of rice.
Both officers work for the Campus Police Department and received the award on the recommendation of GRCC Police Chief Rebecca Whitman. Whitman presented the award to Officers Ford and Ruiz on behalf of Grand Rapids Community College. The award includes a signed certificate, a small red and white medal, and a signed letter of recognition and gratitude from President Pink.
The event for which the officers received the award occurred early last January almost two weeks prior to the first week of classes.
According to Ruiz, it was lunchtime when he heard Stasiak start to wheeze. As the wheezing started to get progressively worse Ruiz got up and looked over the divider between their desks to find Stasiak bent over another officer’s desk. Seeing that he was in distress, Ruiz asked if he needed the Heimlich maneuver, Stasiak nodded his head yes in response.
Ford sits behind Stasiak and was closest to him during the incident. Ford noticed Stasiak was pointing to his throat when Ruiz asked him if he needed help and so he quickly got up and proceeded to administer the Heimlich maneuver on Stasiak.
During the presentation of the award, Whitman commented on the added difficulty of performing the Heimlich maneuver decked out in full police gear. Ford admitted that this was his first time administering the Heimlich maneuver and so he didn’t have any experience without the gear, but that it did take “six to eight tries with all the gear on” before he was able to completely dislodge the food from Stasiak’s throat.
“The first couple tries didn’t work,” said Officer Ford. “(I) reset, tried again, and had it out.”
Both Officers Ruiz and Ford expressed their gratitude for the award and the recognition of their actions.
“I think it’s a great honor to be recognized for something you do,” said Ruiz. “We don’t seek it, but it’s part of our job.”
“I guess it’s nice to see some recognition,” said Ford. “Just Tom saying thanks to me was all I really needed, that was enough, but I guess it’s good to put some positive light on the police department.”