Last year Stephen Miller and Patrick O’Brien were preparing to return seven detainees to the Nashua Street Jail when they witnessed a two-car accident near the Dorchester courthouse in Codman Square. After seeing one of the cars flip onto its side, Miller, a 15-year employee of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, and O’Brien, a 23-year staff member, secured the detainees with the assistance of the courthouse staff and proceeded to administer medical assistance to the unconscious male occupant of the overturned vehicle until members of the Boston Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services arrived on the scene.
“It was definitely unexpected,” Miller recalled of the Feb. 2011 incident. “[The driver] took a turn and lost control, hit the car [coming] in the opposite direction, and just kind of rolled over in front of us. It was just a reaction more than anything.” Said O’Brien: “The engine was still running, so we knew someone was in there.”
Earlier this month, the two officers were honored for their “heroic actions,” both receiving Meritorious Awards at the 15th Annual Correctional Employee of the Year Awards Ceremony at the State House in the House of Representatives Chamber. Employees who go above and beyond the context of the job and exhibit exemplary behavior on the job are nominated for the awards given at the ceremony by the state’s 14 sheriffs and the Massachusetts commissioner of correction. O’Brien and Miller were nominated by Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral.
“I thought it was great that they did it because that’s what people expect,” Cabral said. “People in public safety positions are expected to protect the public. I was proud of them.”
“You react,” O’Brien said. “This is something that Boston Fire [Department members] and EMTs do every day. I don’t think they consider themselves heroes either. It’s a job. It’s public safety.”
Miller said he was honored to be given the recognition, but quite surprised.
“I just go in and do my job,” he said. “I think you just react the way you’re trained to do and if anyone else was in that situation they’d probably do the same thing.”