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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sartell Save

Ernie Kociemba meets with the Sartell area responders who save his life.
The Sartell City Council took time out from a January meeting to honor a team of public safety responders who saved a man’s life. This “save” was a little different, as it involved both off-duty and on-duty responders from six different departments.

Ernie Kociemba was playing tennis with his brothers at the Fitness Evolution tennis bubble in Sartell on December 11 when he suddenly collapsed due to a heart attack. Off-duty Becker Police Officer Jonathon Batterberry and off-duty Wright County Deputy Dusty Miller were working out in another part of the health club, and each noticed that something was wrong when they saw people running. Batterberry wondered if it was his “policeman’s instincts.”

They responded to the tennis bubble and found Kociemba on the floor with no pulse and no respiration. Miller took over CPR from Kociemba’s brothers. Batterberry took over doing CPR while Miller set up the AED. The off-duty response continued to grow as Stearns County Deputy Zach Sorenson, Gold Cross Ambulance EMT Nancy Kalla, and Dan Williams from the St. Cloud Hospital trauma unit also assisted. A life-saving shock was administered to Kociemba just as Sartell police officers Shelby Lane and Kari Bonfield arrived to assist with oxygen. Kociemba responded to the shock and began to breathe on his own.

Sartell Police Chief Jim Hughes noted their “quick thinking, action, and calmness” when presenting each of them with the Life Saving Award. He also noted the contributions of the Gold Cross Ambulance crew and the staff at St. Cloud Hospital. Ernie Kociemba was at the ceremony, and the news reports said Mr. Kociemba was smiling as he said, “You see this big smile. It’s because of them.”

What happened that night in Sartell exemplifies so many attributes of Minnesota’s public safety community. Think of what came together that night: teamwork, common training and protocols, and a commitment to serving their communities and to helping people. That should make all of us smile. Good job, all!

Up next…Hot Topics

Stay safe,


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Spring Workshops

Mark your calendars for LMCIT’s 2015 Safety & Loss Control Workshops. The brochures just mailed, and registration is now open. (This is a sure sign of spring!)

 Here is the schedule:

 Mahnomen - March 25
 Alexandria - March 26
 Morton - April 1
 North Mankato - April 2
 St. Cloud - April 7
 Rochester - April 14
 Brooklyn Park - April 16
 St. Paul - April 21
 Cohasset - April 23

Once again this year, the police track will be in the morning. Here’s the lineup of courses:

-Difficult Customers—Avoiding Complaints, Challenges, and Claims with me

-Case Law Boot Camp, It’s All About the Basics with Dan Kurtz from our legal team

-Work Comp 101 with LMC HR staff

Lunch is included, and attendees are welcome to attend the afternoon session. I suspect many police administrators will want to attend the afternoon Administrative Session on recent changes to human resources law and data security. As in the past, we will have staff on-site from all of the LMCIT departments, and we look forward to visiting with you and hearing your thoughts.

We are also seeking POST continuing education credits for the entire day of training.

For more information and to register, visit

Up next…The Off-Duty Actions That Saved a Life

Stay safe,


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dividend Envelope Stuffing

The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust
recently returned $9.5 million in dividends to its members.
It has become a tradition. League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) and League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) staff members enter the event on their calendars as soon as the first email goes out announcing the date and time for the dividend envelope stuffing. I was a bit confused when I first saw the email, but I have since learned that dividend envelope stuffing is one very tangible example of how a not-for-profit insurance pool works for its members.

When the financial books are closed on the past year’s claims, an analysis is done to review losses and determine how much money needs to be held in reserve. Because LMCIT is a not-for-profit entity, if there is any money remaining it is returned to the insurance pool members. The dividend amount is based on a calculation that takes each member’s total premiums and claims activity for all of the years it has been a member of LMCIT. Since 1987, LMCIT has returned more than $242 million from the property/casualty program and $38 million from the workers’ compensation program.

Laura Honeck, LMCIT program coordinator, oversees the process. Staff from all departments arrive early to find the third-floor meeting room set up in a large square with 16 workstations. The checks, cover letters, and envelopes are organized alphabetically by city or entity. The room quickly becomes a whirl of activity as staff verify that the correct check is mailed to the correct city. If someone finishes their stack of envelopes, they pitch in to help someone who had a larger pile or—in my case—was a little slow.

Here are some numbers from the recent dividends sent out from the property/casualty program: a total of $9.5 million was sent to 1,180 cities, joint powers organizations, and special districts. The smallest check was for $10, and the largest check was $122,122. And it was all done in just over 30 minutes.

Up Next… A Preview of the 2015 Safety & Loss Control Workshops.

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.