“I’m very honored and I’m very proud, but I’m no hero,” said Carter County Deputy Josh Robinson Tuesday as he talked about receiving a life-saving commendation.
Sheriff Milton Anthony presented the award to Robinson, recognizing him for his efforts Feb. 5 which led to the rescue of an 80-year-old rural Fox woman who had wandered away from her home while temperatures hovered around 5 degrees.
“The woman’s husband called us shortly after 2 a.m. He said she was gone from the house and that she suffered from dementia,” Anthony said. “Josh was one of the deputies who arrived on the scene and called out Fox/Graham volunteer firefighters to assist in the search.”
About two hours elapsed while searchers covered the area surrounding the home twice, finding no sign of the woman.
“Josh went back a third time, and that’s when he found her wedged between a building and a fence,” Anthony said at the time of the rescue.
Tuesday, the sheriff added, “Josh just wouldn’t give up. He searched that third time, and that’s when he found her. If he hadn’t pressed on — well, she would have died. She would have frozen to death. Josh’s persistence — his dedication to his job and the people he’s sworn to protect — is to be admired. He is an outstanding example of the finest in law enforcement, and I’m very proud to have him serving at the sheriff’s department.”
It wasn’t the dark and stormy night countless authors have described, but Robinson remembers the conditions early on the morning of Feb. 5 as very dark, and even worse, bitterly, bone-numbing cold.
“I had been told she had dementia. I called her name. We all called. She wasn’t answering. I was thinking because of her dementia, she would be afraid and she wouldn’t answer or hyperthermia was setting in and it causes people to imagine all kinds of things,” Robinson recalled.
Why was he unwilling to give up?
“I just felt she had to be nearby, and I knew she wouldn’t make it if we didn’t find her.”
The victim was rushed to the hospital where she was treated for hyperthermia. She suffered no other serious complications from her ordeal, and was released from the medical facility by the following day.
Robinson said he has visited the woman since the episode.
“She didn’t say my name, but she talked like she knew who I was,” he said, adding the fact that she has recovered and was able to return to her home was all the happy ending he needed to feel he had done his job.
What drives the former Marine to continue to strive, to go above and beyond in a career that is oftentimes thankless?
“When I was a kid, a friend and I got into trouble a lot. There were a couple of officers who really related to us and gave us someone to look up to. There was also another officer who was really awful, and I remember telling him once I could do his job better than he could,” Robinson explained.
“This is about making a difference. We see people at the worst time of their lives or, at least, not having much fun. How it ends, oftentimes, depends on the way the officer treats them. It’s the officer who can make the difference in that person’s experience.”
So how does he view making the life-saving difference on Feb. 5?
“There are lots of things everyone (officers) does all the time that are deserving of recognition. I think what I got from this was that sometimes its the smallest things (like his decision to search a third time) that make the biggest differences.”
And while Robinson describes himself as “no hero,” Anthony views the deputy’s actions as heroic.
“He’s to be commended for his determination and efforts. He saved her live,” the sheriff said.