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Official News Blog of Baltimore County police, fire, homeland security and emergency management. Call 911 to report crimes in progress and emergencies.
Keyword: westside men's shelter

At 8:10 a.m. Baltimore County Fire and EMS crews were dispatched to the Westside Men's Shelter at 309 Redwood Circle in Catonsville for a report of a medical emergency. 

As fire crews entered the building, meters alerted the presence of a potentially hazardous gas.  Additional crews, including the Baltimore County Fire Department's Hazardous Materials Team, were called to the scene to assist.  Their meters confirmed the presence of abnormally high levels of a potentially hazardous gas.  

Crews immediately evacuated 67 clients from the facility.  

An additional person, an elderly man, was found deceased in a dormitory.  It is unclear at this point whether his death was related to the potentially hazardous gases; there was virtually no gas detected in his dormitory.  

One of the 67 clients was transported to a local hospital as a precaution.  

Baltimore County Property Management and Baltimore Gas and Electric are on scene assisting BCoFD in efforts to determine the source of the gas.  

Arrangements are being made to relocate the remaining clients of the facility.

Tuesday was just another ordinary day for Officer M. Mills of the Wilkens Precinct, but "ordinary" for police officers is sometimes considered "extraordinary" by those whose lives they touch.

Officer Mills responded to a call for a possible fire with smoke showing in a wooded area off of Washington Boulevard in Catonsville around 9:31 a.m., but was unable to locate any fire. He searched the wooded area, where he happened upon a disheveled man and questioned him about seeing any smoke or fire. The man admitted to starting the fire to keep warm and the smoke resulted when he'd extinguished it. Officer Mills continued to talk with the man, who began to recount a tale of disparity, including the prayer for food he'd said just before Officer Mills' arrival.

It is fairly routine for officers to encounter transient citizens during their shift, so this incident was just another routine situation that Officer Mills would handle that day. However, his response could either make the man's day ordinary or extraordinary.

Officer's Extraordinary Assistance

Officer Mills started his response by giving the man cash for food from his own pocket.

Realizing he needed more, Officer Mills offered to drive him to a shelter, which the man accepted. Officer Mills could easily have dropped the man off at any shelter and called it a day. Instead, knowing that most shelters have waiting lists or are filled to capacity, Officer Mills took him to Baltimore County Westside Men's Shelter on Redwood Circle and stayed there, speaking with employees, who provided a hot meal, shower, clean clothes, and ensured a space for the man at the shelter.

Lastly, just before leaving, Officer Mills noticed the poor condition of the man's shoes. He inquired and the man explained that he'd walked to the Baltimore area from Pennsylvania. Officer Mills left, but soon returned with new shoes for the man donated by Walmart.

Officer Mills didn't think much about his response to this call for service; it was just another ordinary day. We're cops; it's what we do. His supervisor, however, recognized that the decisions he made and the effect he had on one person were extraordinary, and that creates a ripple effect. President Calvin Coolidge said, "No one is compelled to choose the profession of a police officer; But having chosen it, everyone is obligated to perform its duties and live up to the high standards of its requirements." Well done, Officer Mills.

 
 
Revised June 27, 2017