'I'm not letting this guy die': Pa. cops on foot patrol save unresponsive man

A group of Pittsburgh police officers were in the right place at the right time

By Megan Guza
The Tribune-Review, Greensburg

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Police Zone 3 Officer Aundre Wright wasn't supposed to be walking the beat in Homewood on Tuesday. He and three other officers weren't supposed to be headed the direction they were going.

But he was and they were. Because of that, a man who might otherwise have died is still alive.

A man flagged down Wright and Officers Jon Bradford, Brian Shelton and Dom Maggio as they walked along the 7000 block of Frankstown Avenue, directing them to a man who was not breathing and unresponsive.

[READ: Why cops need to get out of their cars: Strategies for community engagement]

Four hits of Narcan and several long, tense minutes of chest compressions and the man lived to make it to the hospital.

"We weren't going to walk that way," Wright said Wednesday, noting that he doesn't even work in that neighborhood — Zone 5 — anymore. He was part of that patrol by chance. "I grew up there, so I said, 'let's go this way, come this way.'"

He said the others were asking about his childhood growing up in the city's Homewood section. He was telling them about a particular laundromat when a car sped toward them.

"A car comes flying up with out-of-state tags, and we're like, 'What? Maybe they're excited to see cops walking the beat?'" Wright joked.

He said the motorist started honking and waving. They realized something was wrong. The driver shouted that a man was passed out a few blocks away. In the doorway of a home was an unconscious man showing no signs of life.

Wright said no one wanted to own up to what had happened. Wright used Narcan, an overdose-reversal drug, the homeowner had on him. After two doses, the man gave a semi-breath but remained unresponsive. Wright began chest compressions.

"I was in the mode. I was like, 'I'm not going to let this guy die,'" Wright said. "I'm waiting for him to respond, because usually they'll come around ... and he didn't wake up. Now I'm in panic mode. I'm like, 'Tell the medics to hurry — hurry, hurry, hurry."

[PODCAST: Why agencies should keep mounted, bike and foot patrols]

He kept up with the chest compressions. Shelton tilted the man's head back to clear his airway. Meanwhile, Chief Scott Schubert was on the next street over and saw the commotion.

"Chief comes running up like, 'What's going on? You've been pumping for three minutes,'" Wright said. "I said, 'Yeah, I'm not giving up.'"

Wright and the other officers administered more Narcan, then medics arrived and began administering oxygen. That got a reaction, Wright said.

"Another minute later, they get that little bit of grogginess where he's like, 'Arghh,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, good deal,'" he said. "Once they get that 'argh,' that moan — that's a good feeling."

Wright, a former University of Pittsburgh wide receiver, said he'd never encountered such a dire situation while out walking his beat. He said he's mostly walked into simpler situations, like disputes and arguments — things he can solve on his own with a, "Hey, stop it, let's figure this out" or "Let's be neighborly."

He didn't catch the man's name — he had no identification on him — but he called the experience a rewarding one.

"A lot of people are turning their nose up at us," he said. "This makes all that go away — that one moment where he's like, 'ahh,' and I'm like, 'Yes, score one for the good guys.' You can be upset at me and hate my profession but I helped that guy, helped him see another day."

[NEXT: Pathways to recovery: Opioid training beyond Narcan]

(c)2021 The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Recommended for you

Copyright © 2022 Police1. All rights reserved.