Governor Mike Parson awarded Missouri Public Safety Medals to a total of 11 first responders and six civilians for heroic and live-saving actions during 2019.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, the awards represent the state’s highest recognition for first responders working as individuals and as members of a team during critical incidents. The civilians were honored for taking on harrowing risks during emergencies to save lives and support first responders.
“Each year, this award ceremony demonstrates the heroic, life-saving acts our first responders selflessly perform to protect their fellow Missourians,” Governor Parson said. “Today (Tuesday), we honored eleven law enforcement officers and firefighters who bravely risked their lives to save others. Their acts serve as an inspiration and reminder of the risk these public servants take on each and every day.”
Recipients of the Medal of Valor included Keaton L. Ebersold of Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop H and Shannon Sherwood with the Rock Port Police Department. The Medal of Valor is Missouri's highest award recognizing public safety officers who exhibit exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.
On January 23, 2019, Trooper Ebersold and Chief Sherwood responded to a call for a hostage situation on I-29 in Atchison County. A truck driver exited the vehicle with his hands up, saying a woman with a gun was in the sleeper cab with a child. Trooper Ebersold went to the passenger side, and Chief Sherwood approached the driver side. Both doors were locked. A window punch was used to break the driver side window. The woman had her left arm around a small child and a flare gun in her right hand, loaded and cocked, pointed at the three-year-old’s head. The woman refused to negotiate and ordered Trooper Ebersold and Chief Sherwood out of the vehicle. She pointed the flare gun at Trooper Ebersold as he attempted to speak with her before pointing it back toward the child. As Chief Sherwood worked to calm and distract the woman, she slightly lowered the flare gun so it wasn’t aimed at the child. Trooper Ebersold immediately lunged inside the vehicle and wrapped his left hand around the hammer of the flare gun to lock it in place. Chief Sherwood and Trooper Ebersold struggled to control the woman while ensuring the safety of the child. Once Trooper Ebersold had the flare gun, he threw it out of the truck, and the woman was taken into custody. Trooper Ebersold and Chief Sherwood exhibited exceptional resourcefulness and tenacity to end the threat to the young child.
For a full list of those receiving awards, click here.