Every day is different in the life of a police officer, but for one Sedalia Police Department officer, this weekend was a little more different than usual.
Officer Derrick DeSalme had an “eventful” Friday, which included two medical calls. He responded to a call Friday morning of a baby that was born prematurely at a residence in the 600 block of East 11th Street. He was already close to the home, so he arrived on scene first.
“I performed chest compressions on the baby until (Sedalia) Fire (Department) showed up to take over,” DeSalme said. “They ended up life-flighting him to Columbia, where he’s actually doing really well today. The dad’s been staying in touch with us, keeping us up-to-date.”
Later that day, DeSalme was on the west side of the city when a call came in that a woman was choking on an apple at the Center for Human Services. Once again, DeSalme happened to be the closest officer and arrived on scene first.
“I showed up out there and she was quite red and turning white, I couldn’t really hear any breath,” he said. “That was a unique situation too because she was in a wheelchair, so I wasn’t able to give her the correct Hemlich maneuver from behind, so I had to do an impromptu side maneuver. After five or six abdominal thrusts, she let out a big cough and the apple dislodged.”
DeSalme credited the skills he used on both calls to SPD for the first aid and first responder training it provides all officers each year. He said he has performed CPR before, but it was the first time he had done the Heimlich maneuver.
“I really didn’t do anything different than the 40 other people I work with would do, I was just in the right place at the right time,” he said.
Sunday afternoon, DeSalme was passing by Walmart when he saw a man on the corner of Winchester Drive and West Broadway Boulevard. He had seen the man before, and decided to stop and buy him a meal. This time, his good deed was captured on camera by a passerby, who then uploaded the photos to Facebook where they’ve been shared about 150 times.
“I was driving by and I’ve seen the guy before and I’ve been meaning to stop. I was going to give him some food and explain different services and help we have in town,” DeSalme said. “So I drove by and saw him, his sign says ‘Can you help,’ so at the time I was able to help out with the meal and some different types of services he could look into in town. Just so happens someone drove by and had a camera.
“It’s just part of my nature to want to help people out, and that’s why we want to get into this work is to help others,” he added. “… We have officers that provide food or meals or hotel rooms to people in need on almost a daily basis. That was just one of those times where someone drove by and took a picture. There’s 40 people (at SPD) that would do the exact same thing, and have done it.”
DeSalme said he’s gotten comments at work from his fellow officers about his new-found Facebook fame, but he’s just glad the photos are shining a positive light on the law enforcement profession.
“I really could care less if they even got my name, just the profession as a whole, it’s nice to every now and then get viewed as helping someone out instead of being the bad person,” DeSalme said. “As a whole it’s nice to get recognized. It’s obviously not why we do it, but it’s definitely nice.”
DeSalme said the community aspect of being in law enforcement is what drew him to the profession, and what he enjoys most about his job.
“Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always looked up to police officers and just admired it,” he said. “So I went to college to be a police officer, and after college I kind of got away from it, but I always had that thing in the back of my mind that I really want to help out, so three years ago I went to police academy finally and was lucky enough to get hired here.
“I’m a DARE officer so helping kids out, helping the community out, anything like that I enjoy doing. “
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.