‘Unrelentingly decided’ Guelph police hero acknowledged for serving to save a life
Dozens attended the Police Association of Ontario Hero of the Year Awards ceremony for Angela Mitchell to celebrate and recognize someone who is being called a local hero.
Mitchell was named a runner-up in the category of On-Duty Difference Maker, Civilian Police Service Employee, on Oct. 18 at police headquarters. She was thanked by many for helping to save the life of court service officer Gerald Vsetula in 2018.
Most grateful was Vsetula’s wife Kelly-Ann, who said because of Mitchell, Vsetula survived a heart attack and lived to meet his five grandchildren.
“People have described Angela as stubborn, when in fact she is unrelentingly determined. That is the best way to describe her,” said Kelly-Ann. Since Vsetula initially refused to seek medical attention, Mitchell took him to hospital, and made all the necessary calls.
Kelly-Ann said the honour was “so well-deserved” and she was thrilled to be in attendance — and was even more thrilled that her husband could be there as well.
“I’m humbled by how many people are here to show their appreciation. Thank you,” said Kelly-Ann.
Although Mitchell declined to give a speech herself, she said the heartfelt gratitude expressed by Mark Baxter, president of the PAO, Michael Kerzner, solicitor general, Philip Perrins, president of the Guelph Police Association, Gord Cobey, chief of the Guelph Police Service, Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie, and MPP Mike Schreiner, as well as Vsetula and his wife Kelly-Ann, was “overwhelming.”
“I’m very appreciative,” said Mitchell, who said helping people is just part of her job, although it is sometimes hard to talk about. “I’m just so happy we had this outcome.”
Mitchell admitted that, “Anyone who knows me at all will tell you I am quite assertive, and I like to get things done.”
Vsetula said if it was anyone other than a special constable, he wouldn’t have gone willingly to the hospital that day.
“I was having a heart attack as I was speaking with her; I was just too stubborn to admit it. I didn’t feel like I was having a heart attack. I was winded, but I just thought that was from a walk,” said Vsetula. “It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I had been in danger.”
Not only did Mitchell take him to hospital and make sure he got the medical attention he needed — which ended up being life-saving double bypass surgery — she also called his wife, even though he did not want to concern her.
As someone who was a police officer himself for 35 years, Vsetula said he can confidently say that “she wasn’t just doing her job. What she did went above and beyond.”
He recommends to anyone who may be having a medical emergency that they take it seriously and seek help. Vsetula and Mitchell also credit and recommend regular first-aid training for everyone.
Although they do not seek the credit themselves, Vsetula said “every time a police officer goes into a situation, they change somebody’s life. We have all done things that have changed lives. That’s just what you do” — and he said they keep doing it every single day.