ALPENA - Police officers take their vow to serve and protect seriously. Although they are required to issue tickets and serve warrants for arrest, their number one priority is to keep people out of harm's way, and in some instances that means putting their own lives at stake to do so.
Last week there was an incident in Alpena that should remind people that without these dedicated men and women, there would be more tragic events than what actually occur.
On the afternoon of June 11, Trooper Joshua Henderson was conducting police business at Walmart when a call came over the scanner that there was what believed to be a drunk driver driving erratically on M-32. A description of the vehicle was given and local law enforcement began to scour the vicinity to locate the vehicle and question the driver. When Henderson spotted the car and conducted the stop he discovered the vehicle's operator was not intoxicated, but suffering from low blood sugar due to diabetes. Henderson said it became clear to him quickly that this wasn't an ordinary traffic stop and that the lady was in danger.
"When I found her she was driving at a very slow speed and drifting all over the road," Henderson said. "When I approached the vehicle she was crying and visibly upset. She didn't know where she was, who she was or where she was going. When she advised me that she suffered from diabetes I called an ambulance."
While helping the woman go through her purse Henderson said some glucose tablets were found and the woman took a dose, which helped her somewhat. Henderson did the best he could to get the woman to relax until more help arrived to the scene. He said after she was transported to the Alpena Regional Medical Center, he did get a greeting from her this week.
"We just talked and I comforted her as much as I could until EMS arrived," Henderson said. "I didn't talk to her afterward, but I did just get a thank you card from her."
Henderson said he appreciated the card from the woman and that it felt nice to be recognized, but he was doing what needed to be done.
"It's nice when people notice when you do something good to help them, but that is what we are here for," Henderson said. "We're not just here to write tickets and take people to jail. We do when we have to, but what we're really here for is to help people."
Law enforcement was notified of the woman's erratic driving when several other motorists called 911 to report it. Henderson said the quick action of the other drivers could have helped prevent a much worse situation from developing.
"We're thankful the public did call. If they wouldn't have we would not have been out looking for her, let alone find her," Henderson said. "There are a lot of things that could have happened had we not found her. She could have caused a head-on collision or driven off the road and crashed. She could have ended up in Gaylord because she had no idea where she was going. With the help of the community we were able to find her and provide help to her. We appreciate the help and we need their help more on other things in the future."
The name of the woman, who is 52 years old, was not released. Henderson has been a trooper at the Alpena post since October 2012.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.