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Sierra Conservation Center Employees Receive Medal Of Valor Awards

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Sonora, CA — The California Department of Corrections recognized 98 people from across the state who either responded bravely during life-threatening situations or did exemplary work to benefit the prison system.

The 35th annual Medal of Valor ceremony was held virtually this year due to COVID-19 concerns. Sierra Conservation Center Correctional Officer Stephan Lambert was one of two people selected as the “Rehabilitation Professional of the Year.” Officer Lambert’s leadership work with the prison’s Substance Abuse Use Disorder classroom module helped turnaround negative behaviors among inmates and created a better working environment for fellow officers.

Information about other honors, as provided by the Sierra Conservation Center, is written below:

SCC Correctional Officer Amanda Duncan was honored with a Silver Star medal, awarded for acts of bravery under extraordinary or unusual circumstances and displaying courage in the face of potential peril while saving or attempting to save the life of another person. Officer Duncan was enjoying a day with her children at a swimming area on the Clavey River in the Stanislaus National Forest. Duncan saw a woman jump off of a rock into the water, but she surfaced near a waterfall and went under. Duncan dove into the water. The current was strong, but Officer Duncan got the woman to safety and performed CPR, saving her life.

Five SCC employees were among the 31 people honored with a Bronze Star, awarded for saving a life without placing oneself in peril and using proper training and tactics in a professional manner to save, or clearly contribute to saving, the life of another person.

Richard Russell, a Correctional Counselor II Supervisor; Correctional Lieutenant Andrew Pilati and Correctional Officer Michael Nord were on their way home from work when they encountered a car that had gone over a barrier and about 30 feet down a steep embankment. They went down the embankment and found two elderly victims, one of whom was going in and out of consciousness. They helped the couple until an ambulance arrived and they assisted carrying the victims on backboards up the steep incline.

Daniel (Anaiah) Kirk, a Correctional Counselor II Supervisor, was also honored with a Bronze Star. Kirk was at a board of supervisors meeting when a man in the audience collapsed. Kirk rushed to help and grabbed a standby automated external defibrillator. The man’s heart stopped beating. Kirk assembled the defibrillator and gave the man a controlled shock while others performed CPR. They regained the man’s heartbeat and he was taken to a hospital.

SCC Correctional Sergeant Tim Orpurt was honored with a Bronze Star for using the Heimlich maneuver to save a man who was choking and having trouble breathing.