Emergency workers earn accolades
Ryan Coughlin wasn't looking for accolades when he became the sole investigator for the Rosemount Police Department earlier this year. Scott Engelmann was just trying to help his department when he went to work improving the fire department's training program. And Rachel Hernandez was just doing her job when she helped a 10-year-old girl who had drowned. But due to their efforts the three were honored by their peers as public safety employees of the year at the American Legion's 91st Birthday Party March 19. Colleagues nominated each of the award recipients for the honor.
This year's Police Officer of the Year, Coughlin has been a member of the Rosemount Police Department since 2006.
Rosemount Police Chief Gary Kalstabakken said Coughlin was selected by his peers for a number of things he did throughout the year. In particular, though, Kalstabakken said Coughlin's willingness to step up to the plate to fill the detective position this year led to the nomination.
For most of his time with the department Coughlin has worked as a patrol officer. Late last year he started a stint as a department detective. Coughlin said he volunteered for the temporary position to become a better patrol officer.
Then lead detective Henry Cho was promoted and Coughlin, with two months of training, became the city's sole detective. On top of that, Coughlin serves the department as a field training officer, provides on the job training for new officers and is a physical evidence processor.
Coughlin said he was honored and humbled to receive the award.
"To me I just did my job as best I could," said Coughlin.
This year's Firefighter of the Year, Engelmann, has been a member of the department since 1995. Fire chief Scott Aker said Engelmann was nominated by his fellow firefighters for his efforts to improve the department's training program.
"He saw an area that needed improvement and stepped up to do that," said Aker.
Aker said in 2009 Engelmann planned more hands-on training for his fellow firefighters and put together presentations used for instruction in the classroom.
This year's Dispatcher of the Year, Hernandez has worked at the Dakota Communications Center since it opened in 2008. Before that she worked as a dispatcher in Apple Valley.
DCC director Kent Therkelsen said Hernandez was nominated for her overall performance but one incident in particular stood out. In June 2009 Hernandez responded to a call of a 10-year-old girl was found at the bottom of a swimming pool. Hernandez was able to calm the caller down and get them to start CPR. The girl survived,
Hernandez said she still checks up on the little girl and is glad she was there to help. That good feeling, Hernandez added, is why she loves her job.
"I can't imagine myself doing anything else," said Hernandez.