Barnwell SRO Stock Given St. Charles Police Department Life Saving Award

Posted on 06/22/2017
From left: Lt. Dewitte, Officer Michael Stock, Chief Todd, Sgt. Clay

For a School Resource Officer (SRO), there is one priority – the safety of students and staff. They observe, and they protect. One observation made by an SRO, Officer Mike Stock at Barnwell Middle, just happened to save someone’s life. To honor him for his heroism, Officer Stock was recently presented with the St. Charles County Police Department Life Saving Award.

Stock went to work on that fateful day, and performed his normal duties. Just like anyone else, SROs arrive to see mostly the same smiling faces (or not smiling) every day. However, on that day, Officer Stock’s daily greetings were short one person – cafeteria aide Doug Patton. He didn’t call or show up, which was completely out of his character. As if a sixth sense took over, Officer Stock knew something was wrong. “That previous Friday, I had let him know that we were going to be short in the lunchroom on Monday.” The principals normally assist in the lunchroom, but they would be detained with interviews that day.

The first lunch came, and Doug wasn’t there. “That was weird,” Officer Stock said, “because he said he’d be there.” He then asked Head Administrative Assistant Cherryl Dillon if he had called in sick, and when it turned out he had not, they called Doug’s phone. Their call went straight to voice mail. Officer Stock’s sixth sense kept working. “Something is not right here, I thought. So I asked for permission to go check on him.” In perhaps the best decision made all year that didn’t involve students, all three principals – Dave Eckhoff and his assistants, Karan Eschweiler and Derek Lay – were fully supportive of the check.

“When I got to his house,” Officer Stock said, “the garage door was open as if he were getting ready to come in. But there was no answer when I called inside. I knocked and opened the door to call in again, ‘Hey, it’s me, Mike.’ But no answer.” A decision had to be made, and Officer Stock went inside the residence. That moment of concern, the gut feeling that Barnwell’s SRO had that something was wrong, saved Doug’s life.

“We found him passed out on the floor. He was still breathing, but just barely.” For Officer Stock, it was painful seeing a friend in pain. “It felt very bad when I saw his condition; I have known him for a long time.” Not knowing if his friend would survive was even more painful.

They tried to wake him up as many of us would, but no reply. A moment like this, when someone is unresponsive to shouts and shakes, is when most of us might panic. We might think the worst and give up. Officer Stock, however, didn’t panic or give up. He went to work. He employed a gentle sternum rub to test consciousness, and then … a hand reached for his. Doug was alive, after all.

The Cottleville Fire Department arrived promptly, and moved him to a larger area. “And that’s when we lost him … twice. They gave him CPR to bring him back.” It may be due to the officer and fire personnel performing CPR onsite that Doug didn’t suffer any irreparable brain or heart damage. Once the patient was stabilized, he was transported to hospital, where doctors determined he had suffered a massive heart attack.

Doug, who’s been with Barnwell for more than a year (after a 37-year career as a juvenile officer), doesn’t recall much from that day. “I remember getting ready to go to work,” he said, “and the last thing I remember is just falling to the ground. I’m thinking that I tried to get up, and I went back down again. That’s the last I can remember until they fixed me at the hospital.”

That day was a blur, but what is clear is how much Barnwell employees care for one another. “It’s such a good district to work for,” Doug said. “I do really mean that. It just makes me feel really good that people listen, and that people care about me – who’s just a cafeteria aide. But when it came down to it, I was pretty important to everybody. So that means a lot to me."

With a new stint put in, Doug is doing much better, and if he’s healthy enough he’d like to return to his lunchroom duties. “It’s just a good place to work,” he said, “good people from the cafeteria workers all the way to the administration.” He pointed out that the Barnwell principals didn’t just stand there waiting for him, but were proactive in checking on the situation. “I totally appreciate that because I don’t think I’d be here if they hadn’t. It just shows that they care about the people there – that they would take time out to check on someone like me, who’s just a little part-time person. But I’m part of the family, too, and it’s nice to know."

Of course, Officer Stock went to see Doug during his recovery. Officer Stock said, “It feels great to know he’s alive.” He said that as if he had nothing to do with the patient’s survival. But when pressed about his own heroics, he finally said, “It feels kind of weird, to be honest, but it’s a good feeling. You can’t help but think, ‘Was I put on this earth just to do that? Or is my time up now that I’ve done it?’”

When told about Officer Stock’s jest, Doug said, “Well, I know I wouldn’t be here if that didn’t happen. My time wasn’t up yet.”

Stock was honored by the St. Charles County Police Department with their Life Saving Award, but he quickly shares the honor with his team at Barnwell and the firefighters who arrived on scene. “It was a whole team effort,” he said. “The school came together. We got a card for him, and delivered it to him in the hospital. Dave (Eckhoff) took him some hot meals. The school community just bands together in times like these.”

Parents of the students at Barnwell Middle, as well as the staff, can take solace in the fact that Officer Mike Stock is watching over them and keeping them safe. And when others might panic or give up, Officer Mike Stock goes to work.



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