Missoula County Detention Center officer Michelle Van Halen is a hero.

Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Paige Pavalone said that Van Halen was walking through a housing pod in the jail on Wednesday, May 21 doing a cell check when she saw an inmate that had attempted suicide.

"The officer looked into the cell and saw that an inmate had fashioned a noose and had hanged himself with a pair of jail-issue pants," Pavalone said. "The officer responded promptly by calling an emergency code over the radio and requested additional officers and medical personnel. They took him down and immediately started life-saving procedures. He was subsequently transported to St. Patrick Hospital. They thought he wasn't going to make it, but her survived and was eventually returned to the jail."

Pavalone said such incidents are not uncommon at the detention center.

"We're dealing with a population of offenders that have mental health issues, depression, and suicidal tendencies, and they're in an unpredictable, volatile environment," Pavalone said. "Officer Van Halen's actions were swift, deliberate and could not have been more well-timed. If the incident had occurred just a few moments later, then God forbid, we wouldn't have saved him. The inmate spent a couple of days in the hospital and is now doing very well."

Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Paige Pavalone


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