First Responder of the Year saves life of woman on Hiawatha

By Jed Buelow

Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports and Nature Editor

With about an hour to go before the sun set on another cold winter night Thursday afternoon, off-duty Tomahawk police officer Dan Andrews took his daily walk down the Hiawatha/Bearskin Trail.

What happened next had several saying later he more than likely just saved a life.

Andrews said he was taking his daily walk on the trail between Sara Park and West Leather Avenue when he heard some moaning coming from the brush just north of the Hiawatha Bridge. Andrews looked down an embankment through some thick brush where he saw a woman who had fallen off the trail and was in need of help. He said he didn’t know how long she had been lying on the ground but quickly sprang into action to get her up and out of the cold.

The likely life saving effort on the Hiawatha came just over a month after officer Andrews was recognized as the 35th Assembly District’s First Responder of the Year in a Capitol ceremony held Oct. 10 in Madison.

“I was so proud and honored to recognize officer Dan Andrews of the Tomahawk Police Department for his service to our district,” Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) said at the time. “Law enforcement officers like Dan not only risk their own lives to keep us all safe, but are a cornerstone of our rural communities where everyone looks out for their neighbor.”

Officer Andrews earned the award after being nominated for responding to a complex situation involving an individual with a mental illness with care, compassion and consideration for all involved.

“I speak for the entire district when I thank officer Dan Andrews for his commitment and dedication to his duties, and am deeply honored to call him a member of our community,” Felzkowski added.

Officer Tom Tollifson quickly responded to the 911 call and assisted Andrews in getting the woman back to the trail. Fire Chief Beetle Nyberg arrived on scene a short time later and helped get the lady in his warm truck. After backing his truck almost the entire length of the Hiawatha between the bridge and West Leather Avenue, the woman was loaded into a waiting ambulance and taken to the hospital for further care. The chief said the action by officer Andrews could have very easily saved a life considering the time of day and the cold night that was about to set in.

It was later learned that Andrews’ actions likely did, as the woman had fallen and spent the night prior exposed in the elements on the bottom of the embankment. At the time she was rescued, her core body temp had dropped below the point that her body would no longer shiver. After initial care in Tomahawk, the woman had to be flown by helicopter for additional care.

The woman’s dog was also found at the scene – and was likely part of the reason the woman was found as the wimpering the officer heard was coming from the dog – was taken to the vet until family could pick it up.

Just over a month after being named the First Responder of the Year, officer Andrews was involved in another incident where his action might have saved a life. And whether by chance or divine intervention, you can bet his name will be in the running for First Responder of the Year for a second straight year thanks to his off-duty efforts on the Hiawatha Thursday.

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