In August, King County (Washington) Sheriff Office 911 Operations Manager Jean Best sent an email to her staff advising that a Flathead Montana deputy had been transported to Harborview Medical Center (HMC) after being involved in a major accident while off duty.
Deputy Brauer was hit head on in his Smart car by a drunk driver who crossed the median on a divided highway while off duty. He suffered many severe injuries, but was able to call 9-1-1, reaching his own Communications Center. A new call receiver trainee received that call, and worked to get him the help he needed.
KGSO Communications Specialists, Kathryn Barnes called HMC and spoke with Deputy Brauer’s mother, Joannie Gregg. Kathryn reminded her that caregivers burn out quickly and also asked what she needed. Once those items were identified, Kathryn and her sister jumped in the car and had the items to them within 3 hours.
The sisters met Deputy Brauer and Joannie in Acute Care and were greeted with a big hug. He was heavily medicated and could only focus to say, “I’m really out of it.” They told Joannie that if there was anything they could do to help she was to call and provided home and work numbers.
Kathryn reported the results of her hospital visit in an email to her peers and the immediate response was overwhelming. Money started rolling in along with numerous offers to visit Deputy Brauer, shop for whatever he needed or help deliver items downtown.
Communications Center personnel raised $175 cash, plus gathered at least $150 in donated magazines, puzzle books, sodas, sandwiches, clothing, etc. A family contact in the beauty industry generously provided 500 mini bottles of shampoo that will be forwarded to The Genesis Project in SeaTac. Others delivered meals to the family and purchased a dorm size refrigerator for the hospital room.
The Brauer family was reluctant to accept the fridge at first, were assured that communications staff would retain the fridge after discharge to help others in a similar situation. Upon hearing this explanation, they gratefully accepted the fridge.
This amazing group of Communications Specialists handled beverage supply runs and did Joannie’s laundry! After 3 weeks at Harborview Deputy Brauer was ready for rehab but Montana was unable to provide the level of care he still needed.
He was transferred to Lifecare Center of Kirkland. The deputy was there for 10 days. The visits, treats and beverages, and gift deliveries continued. Communications staff provided clothes for Deputy Brauer to wear home and a giant duffle bag to transport “slider board” to help him get in and out of wheel chair. Through social media, people as far away as San Diego learned about a need and helped by sending pants to the rehab center.
On Kathryn’s last visit with Deputy Brauer, he expressed concern about how he was going to push himself through the airport in his wheelchair with only one good arm. She assured him that he would receive help. She made arrangements to have law enforcement personnel meet him at the airport!
Three Washington State Police units met Deputy Brauer at the rehab center and escorted his ambulance to SeaTac airport where 5 Seattle Police Department officers greeted him. They, along with officers from the Port of Seattle Police Department, pushed his wheel chair through the airport, got him through TSA, and physically put him on the plane. He was surprised and delighted. A large delegation greeted him upon his return to Montana.
Deputy Brauer has much healing to do, but he is in good spirits. His family has been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity they’ve experienced while in King County. King County Sheriff’s Office Deputies along with Seattle Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Metro Police, the Peer Assistance Team and the Comm Center personnel made a real difference for this family during their crisis. Way to go law enforcement family!
The KCSO Communications Personnel and others who generously donated and gave their time and energy to assist this family included:
Kathryn Barnes and her sister Gayle Barnes, Megan Golden, Carissa Tom, Malinda Griffin, Kim Tyler, Lindsey Lux, D’Lynn Richelderfer, Brandy Burns, Verna Riley, Kelli West, LouAnn Lagreid, Lisa Fleming, Lisa Warfield, Monica Burke, Nancy Fernandes, Monique du Vair, Dawn Bodley, Shannah Mullinax, Sheree Good, Megan Maher, Nicola Brogan-Nordmo from San Diego, and the S.H.E.R.I.F.F. Fund.