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Van Buren Co. deputy honored for saving life
VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A West Michigan deputy is being hailed as a hero after he saved another officer's life from thousands of feet in the air.
Deputy Brian Matthews has been very modest about saving an officer who suffered a stroke on the flight home following several weeks of drug training in Arizona.
Matthews told Newschannel 3 that it was all just part of the job.
The man he saved, as well as his co-workers, feel otherwise.
Matthews, who is also an EMT, sprang into action during a medical emergency on a Southwest flight back from training in Arizona just weeks ago.
"I found a guy that was from our group," Matthews recalled. "He's actually from the Muskegon Police Department. It was kind of shocking to see that it was one of our guys on the back of the plane; it was a medical emergency."
Thinking quickly, Matthews determined that his colleague was having a stroke.
He broke down an oxygen mask to treat the man and told the pilot that the plane needed to land.
"During a stroke, the medicine they use has to be applied in a three hour window," Matthews explained. "If they hadn't landed in Des Moines, the next stop would have been Chicago, and they would have missed that window."
Matthews assisted the officer in an aisle through the emergency landing, suffering minor injuries himself.
"We deal with situations like this on the road all the time, but to have it happen on an airplane was quite unique," said Lt. Bob Kirk, of the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
Now, the family of the officer, who would have been much worse off without Deputy Matthews' quick response, are expressing their gratitude to the man many are now calling a hero.
Deputy Matthews received a lifesaving award for his act last week.
He says he was able to visit the Muskegon officer and his family in the hospital Wednesday.
The officer will likely be there six more weeks before returning to work.