LEONARDTOWN, MD. — According to the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department, on May 10, 2014, several members of the St Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office were working in an off duty capacity providing security for the Warrior Dash race in Budd’s Creek, Maryland. The annual event is one of the largest and most anticipated events in the region. At 12:24 PM, Deputy William Wood received a report that a race participant had collapsed in a wooded area and was not breathing. Deputy Wood requested help over his radio. Deputy Wood and Deputy Trevor Teague located the 56 year old female on the muddy trail more than 50 yards into a densely wooded area. They immediately assessed the situation, reported her condition, and took over administering CPR from other race participants.
Sergeant Clayton Safford, Corporal Todd Fleenor, and Corporal Thomas Hedderich were at the start line when the call for help came over the radio. Instead of running the course trail, they ran through a heavily wooded area to where the patient was located deep in the woods. Corporal Fleenor saw the Gator down the course trail stuck in the mud and ran back to it. Three race participants, later identified as Prince George’s County fire fighters, and Corporal Fleenor pulled the Gator out of the mud, then ran back to the patient. The Gator, driven by contracted medical personnel, made it to the deputies, but without an automated external defibrillator (AED). Sergeant Safford with the expertise provided by the PG County fire fighters, determined the priority was to evacuate the patient from the wooded area immediately. Complicating the situation, Sergeant Safford and Corporal Hedderich determined the Gator could not take the course trail with the patient on board and risk getting stuck in the mud again. Therefore, they decided the quickest way to the ambulance was to cut their own path through the woods and with the assistance of the three PG fire fighters they did just that. Without hesitation they loaded the patient onto the back seat of the Gator. Deputy Teague ran along side the Gator performing CPR with two of the PG fire fighters providing rescue breaths. Sergeant Safford, Corporal Fleenor, Corporal Hedderich, Deputy Wood, and the remaining PG fire fighter made a path with their hands and feet and physically pushed the loaded Gator approximately 50 yards through the heavily dense brush to the open field.
Once in the open field, the ambulance was another 200 yards up the hill at the starting line. Sergeant Safford relieved Deputy Teague and continued administering CPR with the patient on the back seat of the Gator until they reached the ambulance. Once at the ambulance, the patient was transferred onto a gurney and CPR was continued by Corporal Todd Fleenor until an AED was applied. The PG fire fighters provided rescue breaths the entire time. Deputies then carried the patient into the ambulance where medical personnel took over her care. The entire event lasted approximately 15 minutes. The three Prince George’s County fire fighters were later identified as Captain Scot Williams, Captain Mike Marshall, and Fire Fighter Jason Parker.
“I’ve been fortunate to be in public service for nearly 20 years now and in that capacity I’ve seen some amazing things, but few rival what I witnessed on May 10. In a medical emergency time is the enemy. There was no hesitation on the part of these deputies. Without giving it a second thought, they ran into the thick woods; through mud, poison ivy, and briars to reach the patient who was in grave condition. CPR was initiated and a plan to quickly and safely extricate her from the woods put into action. A path was blazed through the woods. I saw barriers, fence posts and anything perceived as an obstacle pulled, torn and thrown out of the way. The ATV, which was commandeered to serve as an ambulance, was physically pushed out of the woods to meet the awaiting ambulance. Deputies performing CPR while running alongside the ATV. An EMT, (Emergency Medical Technician), who witnessed what took place, told me moments later –he had never seen anything like it before. While shaking his head in disbelief, he said, “Those guys initiated life-saving care in less than three minutes!” Our deputies do incredible things and this incident is a tremendous example of how our officer’s presence, quick action, training, and above all, teamwork affected a life in the most profound way – by sustaining it.” – Captain Steve Hall, Commander, Patrol Division, St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office
Sergeant Clay Safford
Corporal Tom Hedderich
Corporal Todd Fleenor
Deputy Trevor Teague
Deputy William Wood