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Randall Brandt remembers the time when a teenager swung a pool cue at him, just missing his nose.
As a psychiatric aide supervisor at the former Dammasch State Hospital, he learned how to handle violent patients. “I just sat there and talked the kid down,” he said.
“We didn’t have the tools that a police officer does,” he said. “We had to deal with it in other ways, so you kind of learn.”
Now a Portland patrol officer, Brandt, 60, uses the skills he picked up several decades ago when he encounters people in need of such help on the streets.
He says the jobs aren’t that different.
It was a daring rescue.
Police say the man, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, fell off the light rail platform Tuesday night and onto the tracks.
Seeing the man was in danger, the two police assistants rushed to his aid and flagged down the train. The train driver saw them and pulled the emergency brake, buying time for 23-year-old Terrell Granberry and 34-year-old Matthew Brandt to lift the man back onto the platform seconds before the train would have hit the man.
BY BOB KALINOWSKI and JAMES HALE, Times-Shamrock Writers
HERSHEY – It was a big day for area state troopers at the Pennsylvania State Police annual awards ceremony.
Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Col. Jeffrey B. Miller last Wednesday, June 18, presented Tunkhannock barracks-based Troopers William Gross of Hughestown and Robert Rogers of Dallas with the Medal of Honor, the department’s highest honor and an award given to only 49 troopers in history.
And Miller awarded Trooper Truman Brandt of Dallas with a Purple Heart.
“The world will never have enough heroes, but we’re grateful for the ones we have,” Miller said during the ceremony at the State Police Academy in Hershey.
Gross, 40, and Rogers, 39, earned the award for saving Brandt’s life when his cruiser burst into flames during a collision in Lake Township in May 2007. Brandt was coming to assist fellow troopers on a pursuit when the fleeing vehicle crashed into his cruiser head-on along Route 29. The wreck rendered Brandt unconscious and trapped him inside.
With the help of Pennsylvania Game Commission official Dennis Dobinick, the Troop P, Tunkhannock-based troopers fought through intense smoke and flames to extricate Brandt from the vehicle.
“I was proud to be part of God’s plan to be there that day,” Rogers said Wednesday.
Brandt, 39, based at Troop P, Wyoming, sustained critical injuries and continues to rehabilitate.
“Having watched the in-car camera … It’s unbelievable to me Trooper Brandt was able to survive,” Miller said.
The crowd gathered for the ceremony gave Brandt a standing ovation.
“I can only accept this today because those three fellows saved my life,” he said.
Dobinick, a Lehman Township firefighter, won the Outstanding Citizenship Award.