Just before 12:30 a.m. Saturday, a man broke through the glass door of his west Tulsa apartment and fell down a flight of stairs, puncturing an artery in his thigh. Tulsa Police Officers Charles Ramsey and Kevin Tally responded to a call for help at the residence and found the man unconscious and lying in a pool of blood.
Others nearby tried to use towels to stop the bleeding but couldn’t do so successfully. Ramsey, who became a certified EMT in May after training with EMSA personnel, realized the man punctured an artery and knew he may not have enough time to make it to a hospital.
What happened next, police say, likely saved the man’s life.
“We really started hitting on medical training (at the Tulsa Police Department) and officers carrying tourniquets and HALO (chest) seals and things to just kind of do the best that we can and kind of bridge that gap between officers and the time that EMSA and Tulsa advanced medical can arrive,” Ramsey said during a Monday interview. “Myself and Officer Tally put the tourniquet on his high upper thigh. He was unconscious when we were doing it.”
Once the tourniquet was secure, the man awakened slightly and became “somewhat combative,” Maj. Ryan Perkins said in a news release. However, the tourniquet prevented the man from losing too much blood, and the physician who later treated him reported that he had an open leg fracture that severed his artery.
Police did not identify the man Monday.
Many of the department’s officers have had first-aid kits that include tourniquets and HALO chest seals for at least a year, Perkins said, and that, combined with Ramsey’s EMT training, enabled the officer to take quick action.
“When we get there, it may be two or three minutes before EMSA comes in or Tulsa Fire comes in, so we can bridge those critical few minutes from when we get there to when advanced life support gets there,” Ramsey said.
Saturday’s life-saving action was the third by Tulsa police officers that involved an official-issue tourniquet, Perkins said. Previous incidents included a man who was seriously injured in a car accident on the Inner Dispersal Loop and a K-9 dog who was injured while helping an officer in a home raid.
“The reality is that these officers aren’t going to stand by and watch somebody bleed out,” Perkins said. “They’re going to use the equipment to save citizens that are in front of them and need help right now and can’t wait for EMSA or (Tulsa) Fire to get there.”
Ramsey said that although he has previously saved lives while on duty, he does not consider himself to be a hero because protecting others is part of his job. Tulsa World archives show that the former University of Tulsa tight end helped officers and firefighters rescue a woman from a car during a house fire in March 2011.
In that instance, Ramsey and two others broke a window to pull the woman from the vehicle, as she was disoriented and did not know what to do.
She was not injured, and no one was inside the home at the time.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time,” Ramsey said. “It’s just having the ability to do it and having the equipment. I can count 700 other officers on this department that would have done the same thing.”