Don Noble was at the right place at the right time.
Minutes before a van ignited in flames in early-August, the Wilkes University 2nd shift Public Safety Patrol Sergeant rescued the driver and passengers, including two young children.
“You don’t make a plan, you rely on your training,” Noble stated. “I did what was the most important thing at the time, getting them out.”
On Aug. 8 at 3:51 p.m., Noble witnessed a car crash while patrolling his regular route on the corner of South Franklin and West Northampton streets.
Without a second thought, he rushed toward the smoking van and pulled the occupying family out. After forcing the front passenger door open, and conducting a medical assessment, the two young girls and family were found to be unharmed.
Soon after the rescue, the van caught fire; Wilkes-Barre’s fire department arrived shortly on the scene.
Noble, now a lieutenant, started as a Patrol Officer at Wilkes late 2013. He also works as an officer at a local municipality’s police department, also holding position as Deputy Sheriff for seven years. Noble reflects on his position as a Wilkes Public Safety officer and compares it to being a regular police officer.
“Dealing with bad guys takes a toll. Here, I’m working with good guys,” said Noble on transitioning from the outside community to Wilkes’ campus community.
“As a police officer, I mostly spend time arresting people. At Wilkes, I get to actually help people; educate and warn them about dangerous behavior. What I do on campus matters, I get to know the community.”
Wilkes’ Public Safety Department has approximately 30 members; patrol officers, administrators and coordinators working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Noble said that there is a lot of experience in the department and safety is Wilkes’ number one priority. Four officers have more than 20 years of experience in police work. Wilkes conducts national searches to find the best and most highly trained officers to serve the campus.
Wilkes continues to provide training to all of its officers. Officers are certified under Act 235, The Lethal Weapons Training Act and continue to receive training. Noble was sent to an armours course and firearms instructor’s course. The lieutenant is glad the addition of firearms to the force didn’t change the way the campus views officers.
“I just hope everyone knows we are here to help because we are part of the community too. It’s not just the people, we are not above the law,” he said.
Noble said he prefers to stay out of the spotlight when incidents like the car accident occur. “It takes a specific skill set that not a lot of people have, to do what I do. The job is the reward.”
The Wilkes’ Department of Public Safety is located on South Main Street, next to University Towers.