Officer Gary Alexis and Officer Ann O’Neill
On September 8, 2017, at 1458 hours, Oceanside Police Officers Ann O’Neill and Gary Alexis received a radio call of a subject on the Mission Avenue overpass possibly preparing to jump onto the freeway below. Upon arrival, they found an obviously distraught 20 year old female on the outside of the protective wrought iron fence, sitting on the street sign above the freeway. Recognizing not only the danger to the subject, but also the danger to freeway motorists, the officers ensured the freeway was shut down by calling for Oceanside Police units and the California Highway Patrol assistance.
Officer O’Neill attempted to communicate with the subject while requesting Crisis Negotiation Officers and a supervisor. Officer Alexis briefed CHP Officers Ryan Harrison and Jeff Pedersen after they arrived onscene. As Officer Alexis briefed the CHP officers, Officer O’Neill observed the subject let go of the fence and begin to lean forward in an obvious attempt to jump and end her life.
Officer O’Neill quickly reached through the bars of the fence and grabbed the suicidal subject’s arm, restraining her from jumping, while alerting Officer Alexis for assistance. This was an extremely
awkward position for Officer O’Neill who began losing her balance as well. Officers Alexis, Harrison and Pedersen quickly ran over and also grabbed the subject who instantly became “ferociously agitated, twisting and kicking in an attempt to break free while emitting a blood curdling scream.” The officers continued to struggle with their grip on the subject as she thrashed about violently attempting to pull away from their grasp.
In a last ditch effort to restrain the subject, Officer Alexis reached over the fence, laying his body on the sharply spiked barricade and grabbed the subject’s lower torso. Collectively the Officers gained enough control so they could lift her up and over the fence to safety.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, one third to 80% of suicides are impulsive decisions and 90% of those who survive do not try again. This dramatically illustrates the importance of intervening when possible during these crisis situations.
Officer Mark Theriot
Officer Mark Theriot received the Life Saving Award for his actions saving the life of a woman who received a gunshot wound to her leg. The woman was house sitting for a friend when the upstairs neighbor sat down to clean his 9mm Glock handgun and accidentally discharged a chambered round into the floor of his apartment. The bullet traveled through the floor into the apartment where the victim was sitting on the couch watching television. The bullet struck her in the leg severing an artery. Officer Theriot, a former Navy corpsman, recognized the seriousness of the situation and applied a field tourniquet to the victim’s leg. The victim was resuscitated twice due to heart failure while being flown to the hospital. The officers quick action was credited for saving the woman’s life.
Medal of Valor
Officer Nick Nunez
Officer Nick Nunez, Officer Mark Bussey, and Reserve Officer Jim Buell were dispatched to a vessel in distress off the Oceanside Harbor, North Jetty. On October 15, 2016, at 2016 hours, Officer Nick Nunez and his partners were dispatched to a vessel in distress off the North Jetty. This particular area is known to have shoaling which can create dangerous conditions during large surf which was five to seven feet at this time in the harbor entrance.
Upon your arrival on scene in boat Rescue-2, you and your fellow officers discovered a debris field near the harbor entrance from a small boat that had capsized. Two victims were in the water, one holding onto the partially floating hull and the other treading water nearby. The large surf was pushing the victims perilously close toward a rock jetty, a circumstance which would have resulted in great bodily injury or death. Your fellow Officer carefully maneuvered Rescue-2 inside the breakpoint and you deployed into the water as a rescue swimmer.
You quickly assessed the situation, identified the most at risk victim as the one treading water without a lifejacket and swam to him. Despite pounding surf and several abortive attempts, you were able to swim the victim back to Rescue-2, and with the assistance of your partners, you were able to get the victim safely onto the rescue vessel.
You returned to the water to retrieve the second victim. Due to surf conditions and positioning, you determined the only plausible course of action was to swim the second victim to shore instead of bringing him back to Rescue-2. Despite your already exhausting efforts, you swam to the second victim while your fellow Officers transported the first victim to awaiting medics on the launch ramp. You swam the second victim approximately 300 yards to shore through pounding surf and strong currents.
To make matters more complicated, darkness had settled in, causing assisting Police and Fire units to lose sight of you for about five minutes during your rescue swim. Additionally it was found both victims were wearing fishing waders, which had filled with water, and had been pulling them downward. This caused a significant drag, which was the equivalent of swimming two victims at the same time.
As a result of your quick thinking and heroic actions both men survived this deadly event. Your heroic actions clearly saved both these men’s lives.
Officer Nick Nunez received the Medal of Valor for his actions that day. Officer Mark Bussey, and Reserve Officer Jim Buell Chief’s Commendations for their roles in the successful outcome of this incident.
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