Firefighter, medic, officer: A woman’s life of service


In her mid-40s, Sonia Lawrence decided to become a police officer

“Local woman promotes beach safety” (Courtesy Sonia Lawrence)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Oregon woman is on a mission to help people, and her resume proves it. At 49 years old, Sonia Lawrence’s life of service is taking another turn.

She has always been ready to help: first as a hairdresser, then as a volunteer firefighter on Oregon’s coast. An old newspaper article profiled Lawrence’s determination to post signs promoting beach safety after a boy was crushed by a log.

“I guess I wanted to learn, I wanted the knowledge of helping others, giving to my community,” said Lawrence. “I had time on my hands.”

She went on to be a medic in Arizona, and then a Lieutenant with a fire department in Tennesse.

“Just encountering people at their worst times, trying to make that time a little bit easier for them or their family,” said Lawrence.

She has raised service dogs, and volunteered at a traumatic brain injury camp. And after 9/11, Lawrence joined Mo’s Seafood and Chowder manager to help feed the heroes at Station 55 in lower Manhatten.

“I just learned the true meaning of a team environment, just knowing there’s always somebody there—it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle, so I live it daily,” said Lawrence.

Sonia Lawrence serves chowder to soldiers mobilized after 9/11. (Courtesy Sonia Lawrence)

Three years ago, Lawrence’s life took another turn when she became a police officer for the first time. She is now on Salem’s force, with no plans of slowing down.

“If you want something, and you want it bad enough, you’ll go after it. And I’m not afraid of that,” said Lawrence. “Every day is different, every call is different, and I think that keeps the fire inside me.”

Fresh out of the academy, Lawrence even helped save a life, for which she was later recognized for with an award.

In November of 2017, she and her field training officer responded to a call for help at a Portland Fred Meyer. A man had overdosed and was unconscious on the bathroom floor. With the help of her senior officer’s instruction, Lawrence was able to successfully administer Naloxone, an emergency medicine used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, and save the man’s life.

Lawrence was given a “Lifesaving Award” plaque for her role in the rescue.

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