By Chea Waters Evans
and Lisa Scagliotti
During a high-speed police chase through several counties on Oct. 20, Shelburne dispatchers James Mack and Trisha Vincent played an unexpected role.
Jerry Savo, 52, and Emily Legacy, 29, both of Burlington, led police on a midafternoon high-speed chase through Richmond, Waterbury and Stowe. During the pursuit, Richmond Police Chief Al Buck, who was one of many police officers involved, went into cardiac arrest.
Thanks to Richmond’s Heart Safe Community initiative, which Buck supported, his police cruiser was equipped with an automated external defibrillator device. A state trooper who was also part of the car chase recognized that Buck was in distress. Once he and Buck were pulled over, he was able to use the AED.
That came together in a few crucial minutes, in part thanks to Shelburne dispatchers Mack and Vincent listening to the radio traffic during the chase. At first just listening in, Mack said they got involved as the chase moved through Richmond. Shelburne dispatches for Hinesburg Police and state police requested Hinesburg officers move into place to be ready if the chase headed in their direction, Mack said.
As events unfolded, the action headed into Huntington and Richmond and soon there was a call for an ambulance for Chief Buck, Mack said.
The trooper with Buck was doing CPR and requested the AED machine. The Shelburne dispatchers knew Richmond officers carry the devices and relayed that to state police.
Mack said it was a small role to play in an incident that stretched many miles across a half dozen towns. Having an officer in need during an emergency is unusual but that’s what first responders train for.
Having people with the right equipment at the right time and place is no small feat, however.
“It’s really nice when everything comes together,” Mack said.
In his town report this week, Shelburne Town Manager Joe Colangelo said Mack and Vincent deserved special thanks for “the essential role they played in saving Richmond Police Chief Al Buck’s life.”
Sarah Lamb, a paramedic training officer with Richmond Rescue, said, “Having a calm and collected voice on the other end was extremely helpful. You guys did a great job relaying information between us and all the different police departments and (Vermont State Police) that were at the scene before we could get there. Getting the message to the trooper on scene that there was an AED in [Buck’s] car had a huge role in having such an amazing outcome.”
Chief Buck is reportedly on the mend.
Savo and Legacy were both arrested. Savo faces charges of aggravated assault, careless and negligent operation, attempting to elude police, burglary, and possession of stolen property. Legacy was cited for possession of stolen property.
Both have been arraigned in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Legacy was released on conditions. Savo is in custody, held for lack of bail with a return court date of Nov. 21; Legacy’s next hearing is Dec. 6.
– The Stowe Reporter contributed to this report.