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Ramsey County Sheriff recognizes local teacher and couple
At a ceremony in Little Canada on April 21, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office presented its Award for Excellence to a teacher and couple who potentially saved lives.
Special education teacher Matt Dodge received the award for defusing a situation at his school involving an angry student who had a knife, while Keith and Sandy Libby received the award for saving a drowning neighbor from the pool at their apartment complex.
Other awards and citations were presented to law enforcement officials, including Life Saving Awards to three deputies who performed CPR on a 94-year-old man experiencing full cardiac arrest, and three correctional officers, who stopped a suicide attempt.
Ramsey County awarded its first Unit Citations in three years, to the Office of Information and Technology and the Violent Crime Enforcement Team.
Sheriff Matt Bostrom presented the awards and noted that while many recipients preferred to stay out of the limelight, he thanked them for allowing him to tell their stories, as it reinforced their accountability to the community.
Dodge has been a teacher at Work Experience Life Skills North in White Bear Lake, a school for autistic people and those with special needs, for one year, though he has taught in Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916, of which WELS is a part, for 11 years.
He stepped in to calm a 6-foot-2 inch, 376-pound WELS student, who threw a chair across a classroom and brandished an 8-inch knife, on September 30, 2013.
While the student made threats with the knife, Dodge spoke to him, ultimately taking the knife and staying with the student until sheriff’s deputies arrived.
Dodge, who said he receives yearly training on how to work with agitated students, credited his relationship with the student in helping him resolve the situation.
“I’ve known the kid for so long,” Dodge said. “I wasn’t scared of him and he wasn’t scared of me.”
Val Rae Boe, principal of WELS North, said the way Dodge connects with students is exceptional.
“He has a passion for his work and his relationships with students is really evidence to his commitment to building relationships that are authentic,” Boe said. “It’s not a surface level interest in relationship building.”
A fateful swim
Keith and Sandy Libby from Little Canada received the award for saving their neighbor, Donald Doris, after he nearly drowned in the indoor pool at their apartment complex on December 5, 2013.
While the Libbys swam laps in the pool, Doris sank to the bottom of the deep end, where he remained for two minutes.
His wife, Lenore Doris, yelled for help when she noticed he was not moving.
Sandy dove twice to the bottom of the pool and dragged Doris to the surface on the second attempt.
From there, Keith helped Sandy move Doris to the shallow end of the pool and out onto the pool deck. There, Keith performed CPR and rescue breathing on the unconscious Doris, ultimately restoring a heartbeat as paramedics arrived.
Neither of the Libbys said they had formal training in lifeguarding or CPR; Sandy noted that she’s “no swimmer,” while Keith said he was previously a medic in the military, though, he said jokingly, it was “probably before they knew where the heart was.”
Sandy says their life-saving intervention that day comes down to fate.
“I was determined no one was going to drown in our pool,” Sandy said. “We don’t swim regularly, so we were intended to be there.”
Mike Munzenrider can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-748-7824.