Training, teamwork and fast action came together to save a man’s life at the Oakland County Jail last summer.
Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Acheson, 37, of Oxford Township, was part of that effort and as a result, he and five of his fellow officers were honored last week with valor awards presented by Corrections USA (CUSA) during the not-for-profit organization’s annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“I was humbled and surprised to be recognized for doing my job, for performing my duties,” said the 1998 Oxford High School graduate. “We were just doing what we were trained to do.”
Formed in 1998 and headquartered in Miami, Florida, CUSA provides national recognition for correctional officers employed at the federal, state and local levels. It also fights efforts to privatize prisons.
Acheson, who’s spent 13 years with the sheriff’s office, and his five colleagues received the award for coming to the rescue and saving the life of a fellow deputy after he went into cardiac arrest while on duty on June 27, 2016 at approximately 2:35 a.m.
“One of our guys was going to relieve the officer for his break and found him unresponsive,” Acheson said.
The victim was not breathing and had a faint pulse.
The six officers moved the deputy, who was seated at a desk, to the floor and immediately began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Acheson connected the victim to an automated external defibrillator (AED), a portable device that analyzes heart rhythm and delivers an electric shock to this vital organ in an attempt to restore a normal, effective rhythm.
“We ended up shocking him three times,” he said.
The officers continued their efforts to keep their comrade alive for about 10 minutes until emergency medical personnel from the Waterford Township Fire Department showed up and transported him to St. Joseph Mercy Oakland hospital in Pontiac, where he was hospitalized for an extensive period of time.
“Because of our efforts with CPR and the AED, he was able to make a full recovery,” Acheson said.
The other officers who were part of the life-saving effort were Lt. Thomas Vida and deputies Brandon Hall, Daniel Drwencke, Steven Pryde and Brian Elliot.
“We train extremely hard in life saving protocol and technique,” said sheriff’s Major Charles Snarey.
Having an opportunity “to use that training on one of our own” shows just how serious and important all that preparation is, he explained.
“It’s just very gratifying to be able to step up to the plate when an emergency arises, and put that training to use,” Snarey said.
Acheson is the son of Oxford Village residents Keith and Jan Acheson. Prior to joining the sheriff’s office, he served in the U.S. Army from 1999 to 2004 as part of the infantry and did a nine-month tour in Iraq.
Going into law enforcement seemed like a “natural fit” to Acheson following the military.
“It just felt right and I’ve enjoyed it ever since,” he said.
Someday, Acheson would like to make the move from guarding the jail to patrolling the roads. But right now, he’s happy with where he’s at and the job works for his life.
Being a correctional officer is an important role, according to Acheson, because someone has to be responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of the inmates, whether the court finds them innocent or guilty.
“Until that time, we’ve got make sure they don’t hurt themselves or each other,” he said.