Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On average, there are 130 suicides per day in our country.
On August 1, 2022, Field Training Officer (FTO) and EMT Amber Stevens and EMT-B Ray Sawyer with AMR Hampton, Virginia, didn’t know it at the time, but they would play a critical role in preventing a person from becoming another addition to this disturbing statistic.
“We were going to stage at a post at J Clyde Morris Boulevard, when I noticed an individual sitting on the concrete wall of an interstate overpass. My red flags immediately went up and I advised my partner, we have a jumper,” recalled Stevens.
That’s when Stevens sprang into action. “She immediately pulled the ambulance into the emergency lane, turned the lights on and told me to call 911,” said Sawyer. “I dialed 911, exited the ambulance while grabbing high-visibility vests and followed Amber while speaking with 911 dispatch. Then, when Amber was about five feet away from the person, the individual appeared to push away and attempt to jump from the wall into traffic. That’s when Amber lunged forward and grabbed the person, pulling them back to the safe side of the wall.”
Luck? No, it was the clear and quick action of a well-trained EMT that prevented a near tragedy from taking place.
“I somehow was able to grab the person’s pants and pull them back to a sitting position. The person kept saying, ‘no one wants me alive,’ so I kept holding the individual close to me, asking the person to just sit with me. The individual was compliant, but I knew the person wasn’t in a right state of mind. I handed Ray the person’s IDs to give to police when they arrive,” said Stevens.
Fortunately, police arrived shortly afterward and took over the scene, attending to the person, who they found safe and secure in the comforting arms of Stevens, who never left the individual’s sight until the situation was under control.
A typical start to a new month? Probably not, as there is likely not a whole lot of people who can say they started August off by saving someone from committing suicide. But for Stevens and Sawyer, it’s about truly living out their roles as EMS professionals, keeping their focus on protecting and serving those in their communities.
“Sometimes, we think our jobs are only about transport, but that’s just a part of the role. That day, we saved a life due to proper training and situational awareness,” said Stevens. “I’m grateful to my leadership team for letting me go the way I know how to. This is how we grow and progress.”
*If you or someone you know is facing an emotional breakdown, please call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org to connect with a trained mental health professional who can provide immediate support and intervention.