Police Chief calls first responders heroes

Chief Wes Coatney of Aurora Marionville Police shares story of person rescued in mental health emergency
(L-R) Aurora Marionville Police Ofc Blake Baldwin, Aurora Firefighter Harley Stice and Aurora Fire Capt Todd Wood. Courtesy Aurora Marionville Police Dept.

AURORA, Mo. — Chief Wes Coatney of the Aurora Marionville Police Dept shares an incident from late last month, calling first responders heroes.

On August 28th, near midnight, a dangerous and intense situation unfolded in Aurora.

A call came in about a suicidal person who had scaled a tree, tied a strap around their neck, and was in the process of attempting suicide by hanging from approximately 30-40 feet in the air.

The Aurora Fire Department arrived. The person in the tree was known to staff and was known to suffer from addiction and legitimate attendant medical conditions.

Captain Todd Wood and Firefighter Harley Stice arrived.

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Wood operated a ladder from the fire apparatus while Stice was on the end of it, strapped to a safety device. Stice was extended to the individual in the tree who had by this point went into a seizure. The person was only remaining in the tree by the strap around their neck and a foot partially wedged in an extended branch.

From the top of the ladder, Stice attempted to rescue this individual and had only their dead body-weight to contend with as they were unresponsive. As they slipped from the tree, Stice persisted and held them with all of his strength.

If they had fallen, they would have landed on pavement or concrete and most assuredly would have died.

While Stice held on to the person, the strap tightened around their neck and they began to suffocate.

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Officer Blake Baldwin of AMPD arrived to help Stice.

With no available safety harness, Officer Baldwin scaled the ladder. He reached the top of the ladder, leaned out, and cut the strap from around the person’s neck, allowing them to breathe.

Together, Stice and Baldwin pulled the person onto the ladder and Captain Wood lowered all three to safety. The individual was transported for medical and mental health treatment and is alive today.

It is an honor to work beside the heroes I have the privilege to see every day. It’s my pleasure to work with the firefighters we have in our area who have our backs, and we have theirs. It’s knowing we did the right thing for the right reasons that makes public safety a noble and worthwhile calling.

Thank you for allowing us to serve, Chief Wes Coatney.”

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