By Brandi Makuski
Ask anyone who’s ever received a recognition coin from the Stevens Point Police Dept., and they’ll tell you they aren’t really a hero.
Eight area residents this year were presented with the coin: a hefty ornament presented by individual officers, when they’ve been observed going above and beyond.
“Sometimes people don’t stop to help someone in need; sometimes they do,” said Assistant Chief Tom Zenner. “But every one who does stop to help, in my experience, has always said they didn’t do anything special.”
The same is true for year’s coin recipients. Of the eight awarded, six asked for their identities to remain private. The other two attended a recognition dinner held in their honor at Rookies Sports Pub on Tuesday.
SPASH senior Stephanie Kizewski was recognized for saving the life of her 16-year-old friend after he had a seizure while riding a four-wheeler at Bukolt Park in September.
Kizewski, 17, said her friend was unconscious and not breathing, so she called 911.
“They told me what to do, so I started doing CPR until the ambulance got there,” she said. “He spent like two weeks in the hospital.”
Kizewski added she had never performed CPR before and credits the dispatcher to talker her though it.
“I’ve never done that before, we never learned it in school and I think we should,” she said.
Kizewski added her friend suffered cuts and bruises, but he has recovered.
James Phillips also received a coin this year. Phillips, a UPS driver, made headlines earlier this year when he alerted sleeping occupants of a fire in their south side home. Phillips was returning to the UPS facility on Minnesota Ave. on the early morning of April 20 when he noticed a flickering light from a home across the street.
Upon further inspection, Phillips- who knew the residents of the home- discovered a fire in the garage. He alerted six individuals sleeping inside an RV in the driveway and one person sleeping inside the home, then attempted to put the fire out himself using a garden hose.
“I’m just glad someone was there,” said Phillips. “I think everyone I know would have done the same thing.”
Phillips was also honored during a special ceremony during May’s city council meeting. He said he still thinks about how many different parts of his day had to line up just right so that he was driving by when the fire first started.
“It could have turned out very different, and I tussled with that for a couple of days [afterward],” he said. “It all turned out okay, but the look on the kids’ faces, they were scared for what happened…if it turned out differently, I mean, how do you live with that?”
Five local residents were honored at last year’s dinner, and the county’s veteran services officer, Mike Clements, was awarded the year before. Zenner said the reaction from all honorees has been the same.
“All of them think they did nothing special, all of them say they same thing: ‘Anybody would have done it,'” Zenner said. “But that’s just not true. A lot of people would have walked away.”
Zenner said all city police officers carry a coin with them for occasions when they witness a heroic deed.
The dinner was also attended by several Police and Fire commissioners, Mayor Mike Wiza, several officers and chaplins from the department and the police auxiliary unit and their spouses.