Great Falls Police Senior Officer Zaine O’Meara’s return is getting national attention on social media after he was hurt in the line of duty last October.
Sr. Officer O’Meara and 3 Great Falls Fire Rescue firefighters nearly lost their lives when a drunk driver barreled into them when responding to the Highwoods Apartments. O’Meara has been back on the job for months, but now he’s opening up to us about what the badge means to him and why it’s the reason he continues to protect the public.
O’Meara reflects on that night, "It was a very awakening moment for me like these might be my last few moments. Had an immense amount of blood pouring from my face and my body. Excruciating pain."
He briefly lost consciousness but says it’s all part of the job.
"You have to accept that there's a possibility at any time that something could be life changing or life ending."
O’Meara suffered a broken jaw and serious shoulder injuries. He was rushed to Benefis Hospital for emergency surgery and was surrounded by fellow officers the minute he woke up, "My immediate presence of mind was that I needed to let them know that I'm okay."
Over the next several months his family helped him through physical therapy. The Great Falls High School graduate also talked to a trauma therapist, but attributes constant support from the community as to what helped him push through.
"People were reaching out to me just to tell me that they're happy to see that I'm doing better and I think that, for me, it just kind of verified why I'm doing it anyways, why I'm even doing this job. Trying to make the community better for them."
Physically he’s left with a scar on his face, but says the incident turned out to be a positive aspect of his life that’s giving him purpose for the future.
"Doing this job I look back on it and I've gained a new higher sense of self confidence because even in those moments of kind of a despairing situation where I felt like I was dying, I was able to do my job still."
He and his wife are expecting a baby boy later this fall.