July 9, 2013

3 prison employees receive medals of merit


MALONE — Over the radio system at Upstate Correctional Facility, Donald Uhler heard a call for help.

“It happened first thing in the morning” on June 25, 2012, the Upstate Correctional Facility deputy superintendent for security said.

“I was at my office, and a call came over the facility radio system that a officer was in need of medical attention.”


Uhler rushed from his office to a cell block that houses inmates and found that Correction Officer Ray Drake had collapsed. He was not breathing and had no pulse.

“Full cardiac arrest is typically very lethal,” Uhler said. “You do have a good success rate if people immediately begin good EMS skills.”

Uhler, the fire chief for Saranac Volunteer Fire Department, has been an EMT for 27 years and a paramedic for 14 years.

“I applied the defibrillator and administered the shots,” he said. “We continued aggressive care.”

With the help of the prison staff, Drake was placed on a gurney and taken to the hospital.

Uhler said Drake was discharged from the hospital after four days and was able to return to work within three months.

“He actually suffered no long-term effects,” he said.


Uhler and Correction Officers Joseph Poissant and Mark Dubrey of Altona Correctional Facility were all honored at the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision 14th-annual Memorial Service and Medals Ceremony in Albany.

“I’m getting recognized, but it was clearly the effort of a team and a group that came out with this success,” Uhler said.

Poissant and Dubrey were cited for their efforts in saving horses and a historic barn at William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy.

On April 26, 2012, as the two were driving together to work, they saw smoke pouring from the barn.

As they approached, they could hear horses in distress inside.

In an interview with the Press-Republican shortly after the fire, Poissant said he felt he had to take action to save the horses.

“If they were going to die, they were going to die with us doing something” to save them, he said.

Before Chazy Volunteer Fire Department arrived, Poissant and Dubrey used fire extinguishers to fight the blaze as the horses were evacuated by Miner Institute staff.

Chazy Fire Chief Mike Cahoon told the Press-Republican that Dubrey and Poissant “did a phenomenal job” saving the horses and the barn, which was built in 1906.

Despite the prestigious honor, Uhler remained humble after receiving his award.

“I’m very proud to be honored by our commissioner but, by the same token, there are a lot of people involved in this honor that weren’t named.”

Email Felicia Krieg: fkrieg@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg