Effingham County Deputy recognized for saving life

Effingham Sheriff’s Department Deputy Doug Bierman was recently presented a Distinguished Life Saving Award at the June Effingham County Board meeting from Effingham County Sheriff . Pictured with Bierman is his partner canine Dax.

The quick actions of an Effingham County Sheriff’s deputy saved the life of a rural Altamont woman when he administered two doses of NARCAN .

Effingham County K-9 Deputy Doug Bierman was recently presented with a Distinguished Life Saving award by Effingham County Sheriff Dave Mahon.

Mahon said on the morning of April 23 at approximately 9 a.m. Bierman was dispatched to a residence in rural Altamont for a 40-year-old unresponsive female in the basement. During the 911 call to the Sheriff’s Department the husband told dispatchers they needed to bring NARCAN.

Deputy Bierman and Abbott EMS were both dispatched to the scene.

Sheriff Mahon said Bierman arrived before the ambulance and found the woman in the basement unresponsive and immediately administered NARCAN.

“I gave her one dose and three minutes I gave her another dose,” Bierman said. “And after 30 seconds to a minute she was up and back around.”

Mahon said Deputy Bierman’s quick actions when he arrived at the scene saved her life resulting in her making a full recovery.

Mahon said the Sheriff’s Department has been supplied with NARCAN since Spring of 2019.

“We’ve had eight saves since we started carrying it,” Mahon said. “Including two in the jail. Basically, it’s a life saver.”

Mahon said NARCAN is not cheap and can go bad in either extreme heat or cold. The ECSD gets their NARCAN supply through a grant from the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System organization with headquarters in Urbana.

According to a press release from ILEAS, Effingham County was one of 18 original counties in south central Illinois to receive a supply of NARCAN from the organization. Twenty-six counties throughout the state were recently added to the original 18 making a total of 44 Illinois counties being supplied NARCAN from ILEAS.

Bierman is a 2004 graduate of Lake Land College where he earned an associates degree in Criminal Justice. He started his career as a corrections officer for the Jasper County Sheriff’s department in 2005 and became a member of the Newton Police Department in 2007. Bierman also attended MTU-13 police academy in Mattoon and an 80-hour two-week transition course at the Police Officer Training Institute held on the campus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He became a corporal on the Newton Police Department in 2011 and became a member of their K-9 unit in 2003 before becoming a member of the Effingham County Sheriff’s department in Oct. of 2016. Bierman became K-9 officer at ECSD a year and a half ago.

Mahon said there was an opening for a second K-9 handler came up Bierman was selected for the position with his prior experience as a K-9 handler for the Newton Police Department.

“He’s done an outstanding job,” Mahon said. “We are fortunate to have a lot of good people working for us here.”

“And he’s definitely one of them.” Mahon added. “I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Bierman and his K-9 partner, a Slovakian Belgium Malinois named Dax, who will be celebrating his second birthday in August, received training together at Macon County K-9 Academy in Decatur.

“The training is for both the dog and the handler,” Bierman said. “Our training lasted 8 weeks,”

Bierman said he really likes working with K-9 dogs.

“It’s something I got into at Newton and I enjoy doing it,” Bierman said. “Narcotics is one of those things I like to look for. So, having an extra tool is always nice to have.”

Being a K-9 handler puts Bierman in a unique position. Bierman said after his shift is over Dax makes the trip home with him to Dieterich. Dax lives at the Bierman residence during his off duty hours.

“He still has the care and maintenance of him even when he’s off,” Mahon said. “So you really have to be dedicated to be a K-9 handler.”

Bierman said the national standard is a minimum of 16 hours of training he must complete with Dax a month.

“I have one designated training day a month,” Bierman said. “Any additional training I will do while I’m working or home on my own time.”

Mahon said while Dax is a great tool to have around, however he also comes with a great expense. The ECSD has fund raisers during the year to help with Dax’s expenses.

Mahon said last Friday was the last official work day for K-9 handler ECSD Deputy Rob Rich who is retiring along with his canine Justus making Bierman the only K-9 handler on the department.

“The dog retired too,” Mahon said. “So, we’re back down to one dog again.”

Bierman’s canine Dax was purchased with donations to the department’s K-9 fund raised by county deputies. Mahon said the K-9 fund is always looking for donations to help maintain and train Dax.

Charles Mills can be reached at charles.mills@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.

Charles Mills can be reached at charles.mills@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.


Charles Mills is reporter and videographer for the Effingham Daily News. A 1983 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, he worked as senior video editor for a Nashville television station. He is a native of Vandalia.

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