Medals of bravery

Officer Thomas Raab, second from left, and Corporal Phil Smith, second from right, were awarded medals of bravery Monday for their response to a September house fire.

Two Jackson officers were presented with medals of bravery Monday for their bold response to an east Jackson fire.

Jackson Police Corporal Phil Smith and Officer Thomas Raab were first on the scene when an apartment caught fire Sept. 13.

Smith and Raab were dispatched around 11 p.m. to the E. Hansen Ave. apartment after someone walking by noticed flames and called 911.

The police officers entered the burning house and eventually woke up resident Lance Scofield, who was asleep in his upstairs bedroom.

“I’m convinced I would be dead right now if it wasn’t for that,” Scofield said at the time. “I sleep hard for those first few hours.”

After the initial 11:08 p.m. 911 call, Smith and Raab rushed to the scene and started to evacuate sleeping residents.

“Police! Get outside!” Smith yelled. “The building is on fire!”

The officers crawled on their bellies to stay below the smoke as the fire burned hotter.

Everyone was safely evacuated, and firefighters quickly doused the flames.

At the Jackson Town Council meeting Monday night, Raab and Smith were presented with medals of bravery for their fast action.

“Law enforcement has perfected criticizing people,” Chief of Police Todd Smith told the Jackson Hole Daily. “We are quick to criticize. What we are not good at is recognizing good work that happens more often than the bad work. This is a step in recognizing the selfless things our people do.”

The medal of bravery is awarded to officers who complete a selfless act.

“It’s when you did something you weren’t required to do,” the police chief said. “You put someone else’s interest before your own.”

He said he’s proud of his officers and is relieved that no one was injured in the response.

“It’s not unheard of to hear about an officer going into a burning building who never comes out,” he said. “You do it at great personal risk. You make that decision in a moment. It’s what separates exceptional people from average people.”

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or courts@jhnewsandguide.com.

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