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Ohio LEO helps save 6 lives in 2 hours

After helping save teens during a water rescue, the LEO helped save a man from a speculated heroin overdose

Officer Aaron Franklin.jpg

Officer Aaron Franklin

Photo/ indeonline via YouTube

Amy L. Knapp
The Independent, Massillon, Ohio

MASSILLON, Ohio — Despite the heavy rain that was falling on the city Monday, things were pretty quiet.

Patrolman Aaron Franklin was a little more than an hour into his shift when that all changed. Over the radio came a call for juveniles trapped in water.

He raced to the scene along Tremont Avenue SE. He was the first emergency responder to arrive. He found a teen boy, who frantically told him his friends had been swept into the culvert that carried Sippo Creek to the Tuscarawas River.

The water rescue was just the beginning of a hectic day. With just a few minutes to catch his breath after the water rescue, Franklin responded to a vehicle crash.

Little did he know that within a span of less than two hours, he would be responsible for saving six lives.

All in a day’s work

A nearly four-year veteran of the police force, Franklin never had been on a water rescue, but he knew to keep his cool.

After he learned the kids were in the culvert, the officer made his way down a slippery embankment to assess the situation.

The water was moving fast. Hanging onto a tree limb, he peered into the large culvert and spotted two teens clinging to the side of the culvert. They were unscathed and happy to see him. He told them to stay put, and he climbed back out of the water.

The boy’s friend, who was able to escape and call for help, told Franklin others may have been swept further into the pipe.

Franklin advised fellow officers to make their way to the end of the spillway to search for the teens.

Knowing he could easily become a victim if he entered the culvert, Franklin tried to keep the boys calm as they waited for the fire department to arrive.

Fire Chief Tom Burgasser didn’t hesitate to join Franklin in the water. Tethered to a rope and donning a life jacket, the chief made his way into the culvert to rescue the boys. Franklin remained at the entrance manning a life ring tied to the end of a rope.

The pair, along with other firefighters and officers, managed to rescue the two boys, but two more remained further in the pipe. The third had traveled under the city about half a mile throughout the culvert, where he was able to cling to a ladder in an access tower near state Route 21 and Tremont Avenue. Police found him and got him out.

“I could hear them yelling, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying,” Franklin said. “I threw the life ring out.”

Water rescues are not something you train for, he said.

“It’s more making a split second decision of what I should do, what I can do and what am I going to do,” he said.

Burgasser praised Franklin for his efforts to save the boys.

“He was hanging onto a tree trunk (in the water). There as no rope tied to him,” the chief said. “It was a cooperative effort. It took all of us.”

It was a scary situation that could have turned out differently, the officer said.

Wet and weary from the rescue, Franklin joined emergency personnel at Fire Station No. 1, where the teens were reunited with their family.

With the city’s emergency personnel stretched thin from the rescue, Franklin was called to respond to a vehicle crash. The vehicle still was in gear, and the driver was slumped over the wheel.

As he approached the scene along Lincoln Way W, bystanders urged Franklin to hurry. The man was turning blue, they said.

The officer pulled the man out of the vehicle and laid him flat on his back in the middle of Lincoln Way. He tilted back his head and made sure his airway was clear.

The man had a faint pulse.

Franklin had no idea what was wrong with the man, but bystanders speculated it was a heroin overdose.

As the only emergency responder, Franklin called on the crowd to help. Someone fetched the Narcan kit from his cruiser, while he asked another person to make sure he was safe from the traffic.

“It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last time I use Narcan,” the officer said. “But, it was the first time I’d administer it on somebody lying in an active roadway.”

Burgasser praised Franklin adding that every minute a person goes by without brain activity is a minute closer to death.

After the first dose, the man’s pulse got stronger and he began gasping and awakening. Paramedics arrived and took over. The man lived. He has been charged with driving while under the influence.

Unsung heroes

Franklin is surprised by all of the attention his actions have garnered. Monday was a little out of the ordinary, but the officer said he was just doing his job.

“My stance is every day in this line of work you show up and you never know what’s in store for you,” he said.

Sometimes it’s quiet, and other times you have to be ready for anything to happen.

There is a lot of negativity surrounding police officers, but, every day, law enforcement face life-and-death situations, and they all have a story about a life they saved, Franklin said.

“Deep down, I hope, at least on that day, I did my job,” the Army veteran said.


©2019 The Independent, Massillon, Ohio