Two RCMP officers received well-deserved recognition Wednesday for first aid efforts that saved a man’s life in North Battleford.
Constables Jason Collen and Paul Gudlaugson of Battlefords RCMP detachment were honored by St. John Ambulance for their role in rescuing and saving a victim of a stabbing incident in a North Battleford home in the early hours of May 29, 2011.
Both received the St. John Ambulance Life Saving Silver Award at a presentation at Chapel Gallery in North Battleford Wednesday.
The two responded to a call regarding a fight and a stabbing at a city residence. One person was alleged to have been armed with a knife.
Collen and Gudlaugson were first at the scene, and did not know when they entered the residence whether the assailant was still inside or armed with a knife, according to facts of the case recited by S. Sgt. Phil Wilson of Battlefords RCMP.
They entered, and after a quick inspection, they found an unconscious male victim lying in a pool of blood who had suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest area.
Also at the scene was a distressed female who was pleading for help. With the perpetrator having fled the scene, Gudlaugson called EMS to attend and other RCMP officers for backup.
The two RCMP officers went right to work with first aid efforts. The victim was bleeding profusely, and the two constables covered him with a blanket and administered other medical care until ambulance personnel arrived. Both Collen and then Gudlaugson administered care by applying pressure to the wounds to stop the bleeding. Among his many injuries, the victim was suffering from a punctured lung.
The two officers were soon joined by other RCMP officers. The other officers were able to quickly track down and arrest the assailant. EMS arrived at the scene soon after.
After the ambulance arrived, the victim was taken to Battlefords Union Hospital and eventually was sent to Saskatoon for surgery.
It was life-threatening situation, but the victim recovered from the attack, thanks in no small measure to the response by the two RCMP officers.
The constables “encountered a hazardous situation, assessed the risk and took immediate action without hesitation,” noted Wilson.
“The members’ response and actions, as well as concern for public safety, made possible the survival of a young man who received multiple stab wounds to the chest.”
The assailant eventually received a jail sentence for aggravated assault.
St. John Ambulance learned of the story of Collen and Gudlaugson’s actions from a submission to them by Cpl. Tim Popp of Battlefords Rural RCMP.
St. John Ambulance determined the two met their national criteria set out for their Life Saving Silver Medal. It’s a prestigious honor topped only by the gold award given to those who put their own lives at risk to save another’s life.
Both Collen and Gudlaugson accepted the awards in front of their proud family members and officials, including Mayor Ian Hamilton of North Battleford and several members of the RCMP.
The awards were presented by St John Ambulance’s Saskatchewan past-president, and chair of Honours and Awards, Don McDonald, and vice-president Larry Wong. Both were pleased to provide recognition to the RCMP officers.
“Their job is to serve and protect, but there’s unusual circumstances that happen,” said Wong.
“That’s what we want to recognize, those who go above and beyond their normal duty.”
For their part, the officers accepted the honour with humility.
“I’m really proud of what we did that night,” said Gudlaugson, who added there’s “thousands of these stories that kind of go untold, no matter whether you’re RCMP or Saskatoon police or Regina police. There are thousands of stories that I don’t think the public knows about.”
He also gave credit to EMS and the other parties who arrived at the scene, saying many were involved in helping save a life that night and in catching the assailant.
Collen also accepted his award with humility and said his efforts that night were all part of the job.
“You sign up for it and they don’t tell you that kind of stuff, but after a while you come to the realization that that’s what we deal with,” said Collen, who called the award “kind of unexpected.”
Both officers had received first aid training as part of becoming an RCMP officer, and had kept up that training over the years.
“You don’t even give it a second thought when it’s time to use it,” said Collen of his first aid training. “It’s important to have, because you never know.”
As for the situation they encountered, Collen noted the call itself wasn’t all that unusual.
“We get quite a few calls like that in North Battleford”, he said, but they knew they had to react quickly after seeing the victim and the pool of blood.
“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” said Collen.
As for his own response to the situation that night, Gudlaugson also counted on his instincts and past experience.
“Your training kicks in, you know what needs to be done,” said Gudlaugson.