Protective services officers at St. Paul’s Hospital recognized for quick action during grenade incident

Bishop Mark Hagemoen presented St. Paul's Hospital Distinguished Service Awards to protective services officers Bryan Melychuk, Lee Cowles, and Candice Nolin. Ross Fowler (right) accepted the award on behalf of their colleague Amra Martin, who was not present at the June 8 celebration. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon recently recognized the outstanding actions of four protective services staff members who responded quickly, calmly and bravely to a frightening incident earlier this year when a person entering the hospital pulled out a grenade.

In a noon-hour ceremony June 8, Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen presented officers Candice Nolan, Bryan Melnychuk, Lee Cowles and Amra Martin with a St. Paul’s Hospital Distinguished Service Award for their actions in handling a potentially life-threatening situation.

St. Paul’s Hospital Executive Director Tracy Muggli described the incident of Feb. 14, 2022, when – without knowing if the grenade was live or inert – hospital protective services officers Candice Nolan and Bryan Melnychuk quickly restrained the man who pulled out the grenade, and removed the device. Officers Lee Cowles and Amra Martin also responded to provide assistance before Saskatoon Police Services arrived. In the end, it was determined the device was inert, but there was no way to know that at the time.

“With their immediate and brave response, the officers kept all of us safe from a potential harm that presented itself,” said Muggli, expressing her gratitude to the officers for their bravery and commitment.

The four members of the hospital’s protective services staff were also recently awarded the Saskatoon Police Chief’s Community Service Award for their swift action.

During the award ceremony June 8, Blake Sittler, director of the Mission Office at St. Paul’s Hospital offered a brief reflection on Psalm 23, noting the role of a shepherd to guide and protect. “We have seen protective services in action, and we have seen them guide… and today we show gratitude for how they protect,” he said.

Interim Manager of Protective services Russ Laidlaw said that without the quick action of the four officers, the incident might have had a totally different outcome, including evacuation of the emergency department and possibly other areas of the hospital and neighbourhood, and deployment of more emergency services, such as the explosive disposal unit and tactical team. All that was avoided thanks to the quick response of the team, Laidlaw said. He also thanked Saskatoon Police Service and responding officer Jody Levesque for their support.

Emmanuel Health President and CEO Jean Morrison briefly reflected on the actions of the protective services officers in light of the core values of St. Paul’s Hospital.

“They certainly demonstrated stewardship, focusing on results in doing what needed to be done to get the job done,” Morrison said, adding the protective services officers also demonstrated accountability to the job, having respect for all, and a commitment to valuing every person, “acting with integrity and high moral principles” to look after those around them. “You put the well-being of others before your own well-being, and I am very proud to be one of your colleagues,” Morrison said. “Thank you for your quick action and your courage.”

Bishop Mark Hagemoen noted how St. Paul’s Hospital is dedicated to the health and the care of the whole person “inspired by Christ and the religious faith of the community.” Thanking the four officers for their heroism, the bishop also acknowledged so many others at the Catholic hospital “who are sharing in the shepherding role of Christ.”

Pictured (l-r) at the June 8 awards ceremony: St. Paul’s Hospital Local Council Chair Maureen Preston, Emmanuel Health President and CEO Jean Morrison, Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Protective Services Officer Bryan Melychuk, Protective Services Officer Lee Cowles, Emmanuel Health Board Chair Darryl Bazluk, Protective Services Officer Candice Nolin, and St. Paul’s Hospital Executive Director Tracy Muggli. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)