The Chapin Chief of Police is happy to be home this holiday weekend and says he is thankful to the many who helped him after he was shot in the line of duty last month.
Chapin Police Chief Steven Helmich, of Jacksonville, was discharged from Springfield Memorial Hospital on Thursday morning after he was shot twice by a suspect following a vehicular pursuit on March 26th.
The pursuit ended in rural Brown County where after crashing his vehicle, the driver who was attempting to evade police fired at officers, striking Hemich in his abdomen and his upper left thigh. Meredosia Police, Pike County, and Brown County officers were involved in the pursuit and Helimch says it was their actions that made it possible for him to make it to the hospital.
“The other officers that were on scene with me helped me with what I would call life-saving aid in the moments after I was shot. Their calm demeanor and deliberate actions letting their training kick in, everyone worked together and their actions definitely contributed, if not completely, to my survival until I was taken into the trauma bay at Springfield Memorial. So I owe them a lot. I owe those three officers there quite a bit.”
Helmich was airlifted to Springfield Memorial Hospital in critical condition where he says he was met with a treatment team that numbered in the dozens who collectively worked together and saved his life. Helmich had to undergo three surgeries and was in the hospital for a total of 19 days before he was able to come home.
He says many times people view smaller or rural county, or municipal agencies as not as professional or as equipped as larger departments. Helmich says he thinks that is a pretty big misunderstanding.
“This incident really shows that everybody goes through the same training, and everyone who is dedicated to this line of work is going to put the same effort into their work. Whether they live in a county of thirty-five thousand people, or a city of one million people.
I think it’s also a testament to the training and dedication that, when you think about it, there were people from four different agencies that were all involved in that initial vehicle pursuit and the incident that immediately followed. So different agencies but we communicated with each other, and those individuals ensured that I had the help I needed. Both right there on scene as well as radioing for the resources we needed.”
Helmich also commends West Central Joint Dispatch as well as the dispatchers in Pike and Brown Counties for working together extremely well to make sure he and the other officers had everything they needed on scene, and that he was treated and evacuated as quickly as possible. He also says he received excellent care from EMS teams from the scene to the hospital. Helmich says overall, West Central Illinois is in safe hands when it comes to its first responders.
“We have a really good, professional group of law enforcement and medical emergency responders in our greater West Central Illinois area. And I hope people don’t take that for granted. Because a time like this really illustrates how we maximize our resources in our area.”
Helmich is also thankful for an unknown number of Springfield Police officers and the local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge who chipped in and donated the funds so his family could stay in a hotel near Springfield Memorial during his stay.
He also says he is grateful to his team at the Chapin Police Department for stepping up to help keep things running while he is recovering. Chief Helmich will require continued medical care over the next several months. But he says he plans to continue his full-time career with the Illinois National Guard. Helmich will be eligible to retire after twenty years this fall and says he plans on focusing on his law enforcement career full-time.