Officer Dustin Gessert says he was just doing his job on May 31st when he answered a welfare check in Wisconsin Rapids, and discovered another situation: a child sleeping in a vehicle, in 85 degree weather.
"It was difficult to wake him," Officer Gessert said, "he was sweating, clammy, had long pants on. We were finally able to wake him by rubbing the back of his ear."
Officer Gessert was awarded the Badge of Courage by the Safe Kids Coalition. Ty Zastava, the coordinator for Safe Kids Wood County, pushed for the award to not only honor Officer Gessert, but to raise awareness to an issue that takes many live every summer.
"On a typical 80 degree day," Zastava said, "in the sun, 20 minutes in the car can lead to 109 degrees or hotter."
During the summer, many of our routines don't change, even with kids at home. So Zastava wants parents to create reminders for themselves to keep their kids in mind.
"Maybe its a matter of setting your purse on the backseat," Zastava said, "your cell phone, your briefcase, something that you're going to need when you arrive."
Officer Gessert knows how busy parents can be, but wants to remind them to remember their top priority.
"I just became a parent myself and it sheds a whole new aspect on being a parent," Gessert said, "you have another person you're responsible for."
"People are busy these days, and have a lot of stuff on their minds," Gessert said, "but you need to realize that those children, that can't take care of themselves, need to come first."
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