Aug. 5, 2010 was far from just another day on the job for Southold Police Officer John Helf Jr.
Dispatchers took a call from a frantic mother about her unresponsive 2-year-old son and Officer Helf was first to arrive at the North Road, Greenport home.
Quickly realizing that the boy wasn’t breathing, the officer cleared the youth’s airway and performed CPR. The boy soon started breathing on his own and as a precaution was taken to Eastern Long Island Hospital.
In short order he made a full recovery.
For his quick and decisive action in saving a young life, Officer Helf was recently honored as Southold Town’s police officer of the year.
“He did what he was trained to do and brought the kid back,” said Southold Police Chief Ty Cochran. “Saving a 2-year-old’s life is as important as locking up bad guys.”
The boy’s mother thinks so, and brought the officer a batch of homemade cookies as a thank you.
The chief presented the award to Officer Helf during Southampton Kiwanis Club’s annual Police Awards at Vineyard Caterers in Aquebogue on Jan. 21. Numerous other East End departments also presented their officer of the year awards at that event.
Officer Helf, who lives in Southold, started as a dispatcher in 2006 and became a police officer in 2008.
“He’s a smart kid and a good cop because he’s always thinking,” the chief said in an interview. “Because he knew what he was doing, that 2-year-old child is running around like a perfectly normal 2-year-old child now.”
Police officers are more likely to offer such assistance now that the county police academy includes EMT training, Chief Cochran added.
“Not to take anything away from the rescue squads – I’m a fireman and an ex-chief – but a cop is already in uniform and on the job and can be right outside your house rather quickly,” he said.
Twenty of the town’s patrol officers are EMTs as are a few of the sergeants, the chief said.
“It’s getting closer and closer to being everybody,” he said.
During the Jan. 21 event the Kiwanis Club also gave a special posthumous award to Ajax, Southold Town’s former police dog, who was instrumental in the arrest of a man who had shot a bullet through a window at Mattituck High School in 2009.