Austin (KYTX)- The Texas Public Safety Commission (PSC) and the Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw today presented a Medal of Valor, two Life Saving Awards and two Top Trooper awards to DPS employees for their exemplary service. The Medal of Valor is the highest honor a DPS employee can receive. In addition, three civilians received accolades for their first-aid efforts during an emergency.
"These extraordinary individuals displayed great courage when called upon to help their fellow man and provided superior on-the-job dedication while serving the state of Texas. This is a proud day for our employees, Good Samaritans, their families and all of DPS," said Director McCraw. "On behalf of Texas, I thank you for your continued service and commitment to helping others."
The following awards were presented today:
- Trooper David Granado, Texas Highway Patrol in Waco, received the Medal of Valor for his efforts to assist a wounded fellow officer despite great risk. On December 18, 2013, Granado and his partner were assisting the McLennan County Sheriff's Office with the apprehension of a kidnapping suspect. The suspect opened fire on the officers, shooting a McLennan County Deputy Lt. Johnny Spillman in the upper thigh. Granado subsequently moved the wounded officer out of danger and used the officer's belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, helping to save his life.
- Trooper Dina Ortiz, Texas Highway Patrol in Midland, and Trooper Grant Belvin, Texas Highway Patrol in Beaumont, each received the Javier Arana Jr. Top Trooper Award, given each year to the top male and female competitors. Ortiz and Belvin competed against other DPS Highway Patrol troopers in the Top Trooper Competition, which tests troopers on core competencies, including job knowledge, driving skills, physical fitness and firearms proficiency. Belvin also was the 2013 male recipient of the award.
- Trooper Eliezer Badillo, Texas Highway Patrol in Lockhart, received the Life Saving Award for his actions during a life-threatening situation on January 9, 2014. During an on-duty break at a restaurant in Kyle, Badillo observed another customer choking on his food (who happened to be a non-uniformed law enforcement officer). Badillo performed the Heimlich maneuver until the officer was able to begin coughing and breathe normally, helping to save his life.
- Trooper Alex Goch, Texas Highway Patrol in Austin, received the Life Saving Award, for his assistance at a crash scene on September 18, 2013. While responding to a motorcycle crash on FM 2243 in Williamson County, Goch provided medical attention to the motorcycle operator, who had lost his right leg below the hip. Two civilians, Cray Steger and Julia Steger, had already fashioned a tourniquet out of clothing and applied it the man's leg, but he was still losing blood. Goch ultimately applied a DPS-issued tourniquet to the man's upper thigh to help stop the bleeding until EMS personnel arrived. Julia Steger, Curtis Steger and Cray Steger were each recognized with the Director's Awardfor their Good Samaritan actions during this incident.
- The Austin Crime Laboratory DNA Casework Section received a Unit Citation for their continued dedication to enhancing efficiency and improving policies and procedures in order to handle an increased caseload. The section has implemented new technologies, including robotics and a new Laboratory Information Management System, which have helped improve the unit's ability to effectively process cases. The Austin Crime Laboratory DNA Casework staff has distinguished itself by exceeding normal expectations in its mission to assist the agency in combatting crime and enhancing public safety. Jody Koehler,Allison Heard, Heather Dragna, Misty Alvarado, Tiffany Bazazzadegan, Chase Baumgartner, Michelle Bonnette, Jane Burgett, Kimberly Clement, Lauren Culver, Katie Dace, Brianne Floryan, Nicholas Ford, Matthew Julian, Caitlin Lott, Rebecca Maguire, Erika Martinez, Robert Meade, Nikki Palmer, Sapana Prajapati and Heidi Riding were all recognized as part of the Unit Citation.