Hanschmidt named officer of the year
SILVERTHORNE – Over the years as Silverthorne Police Sgt. Mark Hanschmidt trained to be a ski patroller, an EMT, a volunteer fire lieutenant and a police officer, one memory from his childhood continued to stick out in his mind.At 12 years old, he walked into a Littleton Walgreen’s to sit at the soda counter. A woman seated nearby suddenly fell backward off her stool and lay on the ground convulsing. Not knowing she was having an epileptic seizure, Hanschmidt, then a boy scout, tried to stabilize her head and urged store employees to call an ambulance. “Don’t worry, she always does this,” they told him.”I got up, I ran out of the store and I’ve never been back in, but I told myself from that day, I’d never want to be in a situation where I don’t know what to do or how to help,” Hanschmidt said.He’s kept his personal promise by remaining an EMT throughout his 20-year career as an emergency responder – training that helped him save the life of a local woman last October who had stopped breathing.
Hanschmidt’s successful effort last fall was one of many accomplishments that prompted Silverthorne Chief Joe Russell to nominate him for the Colorado Law Enforcement Officers’ Association officer of the year award in March.Other achievements Russell highlighted include Hanschmidt’s involvement in expanding the department’s Adopt an Angel holiday gift-giving program countywide and his leadership over the department’s Safe Summer Kickoff event, which gives away free bike helmets, bike locks and new and used bikes to local kids. Russell also commended Hanschmidt for stepping forward as a leader when the late Chief Kent Donahue passed away last May, as well as helping to plan Donahue’s memorial service.”(Hanschmidt) is a true humanitarian for the people he comes in contact with,” Russell wrote. “I have been inspired by his selfless, caring and kind nature, his temperament, and his willingness to give totally of himself to those he serves and works with.”The association selected Hanschmidt earlier this month as the award’s recipient from about two dozen officers from around the state.Hanschmidt stood out for his willingness to go above and beyond the normal call of duty for a police officer, said the association’s executive director Stephen Marker.”Getting involved with all those kids’ programs off-duty, stepping up and saying I’ll take this on and he doesn’t get paid for it,” Marker said.
The award caps off a year in which Hanschmidt was also recognized with the Summit-Lake Dillon Optimist Club’s police officer of the year award and gained a chief’s commendation for saving the woman’s life.Though Hanschmidt said he is both flattered and overwhelmed by the acknowledgments, he is quick to credit the entire police department for his successes.”The whole team is being recognized, not just me; it’s the team itself because not just one person could do all of this on their own,” he said.Hanschmidt grew up in Littleton and began his career in the recreation field, as a YMCA director. He realized, though, that he wasn’t following his passion.”I was sitting at my desk one day and I thought, ‘You know, I don’t want to be 30 years old and look back and say I wish I would have worked at a ski area,'” he recalled.He took a leap of faith and moved to Summit County in 1986 to join Keystone’s Ski Patrol, which he says opened his eyes to the emergency medical field.
Hanschmidt spent his summers with Keystone Public Safety, where he learned the ropes of fire response, and soon became a lieutenant volunteer firefighter with the Snake River Fire Department.Though he was heavily involved in the emergency response field at that point, he knew that one piece was missing, and that was law enforcement.Hanschmidt put himself through the police academy and took a job with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, where he stayed for two years. He transferred to the Silverthorne Police Department for two years before taking a job in Ft. Morgan, a small farming community 75 miles northeast of Denver.His four years there showed him a side of law enforcement he hadn’t yet seen – violence. He worked homicides, domestic violence cases and shootings before the Silverthorne Police Department lured him back about five-and-a-half years ago. Since then, he’s pushed for the installation of Automatic External Defibrillators in every patrol car, and for police officers to undergo EMT training so they know how to help if they’re first responders on a medical scene.
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