Tuesday, January 29, 2008

They Should've Given Me a Medal.

Something people tend to find interesting about me is that I used to work as a Detention Officer for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Maybe it's because I have the persona of someone who never made it past the 11th grade or maybe it's the nerd glasses and my perpetually runny nose or maybe it's the fact that I tend to go "Eeeeeeee!" and do a goober-dance whenever a ball is tossed in my general direction that make people say, "NO! Really? You?!" when they find out this little tidbit regarding my past employment. But the truth is, I really was a detention officer for a little over three years back in the early '90's.

And a darn good one, too! I never had much trouble with the inmates, the other officers enjoyed working with me (well, they seemed to anyway) and I always received excellent reviews. Oh, but if you think that's patting myself on the back, wait until you hear about the time I single-handedly saved a girl's life!

I don't mean single-handedly as in it was just me. No, there was another officer involved. I mean single-handedly as in I saved her life with the use of one single hand. Let me explain.

My fellow officer, I call her Officer "D", and I were assigned to the maximum security housing unit this particular day. Each housing unit consists of four "pods". Each pod contains 15 double-bunk rooms holding a maximum of 30 inmates each. In the maximum housing unit, however, one pod - the segregation pod - contains all of the inmates who cannot, for various reasons, be housed in with the general population whether it be for their safety (child abusers) or the safety of others (psycho freaks). So in this pod, there was one inmate per cell.

Just setting up the scene here.

Anyway, Officer "D" was on a security walk and I was coming back from what I can only guess was the loo, since I can't remember exactly why another officer was covering for me in the tower, when Officer "D" came over the radio frantically calling for back-up as she just discovered a suicide attempt in the segregation pod. Since I was on the floor, I ran into the pod and then cell where Officer "D" was located to assist. What I found upon entering was "D" trying desperately to break the garbage bag twisted into a rope the female inmate had tied around her neck in a very serious attempt to strangle herself. This girl was not kidding. This was no cry for attention. She was very determined. When my fellow officer found her, she was very much unconscious and neither of us had any idea how long she had been like that. This was for real and only by the power of the Lord did we hold ourselves together and restrain against sheer panic.

I could do nothing until "D" broke through the rope. I did, however, place myself at the girl's face ready to administer CPR at the very moment her airway was freed. I had not only in my life gone through two CPR classes prior to and while in officer's academy, but had been professionally trained as to what to do in such an emergency. I was calm, cool, collected & ready! In what seemed like an eternity, the plastic rope tore free and I quickly properly positioned the girl's head and neck, opened her mouth, took a deep breath, lowered my face to hers and...

stopped. I couldn't do it. I could NOT place my mouth on that of an inmate's. No. Gross. Ew! I just couldn't. This was an INMATE for Pete's sake! Heaven only knows where this girl's mouth had been over the course of the years while she was living on the street and doing God-knows-what to pay for her drugs.

I. just. couldn't. do. it.

So I did the only thing I knew to do after that. I raised my right hand high in the air and swiftly and powerfully administered the most awesome knock-you-into-next-week slap to her face that would do any soap opera diva proud. And by the glory of God, this and this alone caused our young deathwisher to cough.

Hallelujah! She coughed!

She coughed and sputtered and gasped herself back into the living world! I literally knocked the wind back INTO her. It was then that I turned around to see that back-up had arrived and several of my fellow officers, including my Sergeant (the one who wrote my reviews), had all witnessed this incredible and very unprofessional act.

Several minutes later, after medical staff took over and the girl was wheeled away to the in-house medical facility and later to the hospital, me, "D" and my Sergeant were all back in the tower to tell him what all had transpired. "D" and I were required to write out a formal report but found ourselves so pumped up with adrenaline that we couldn't hold our pens still enough to write legibly and, therefore, Sarge ordered us to take a 30 minute break to collect ourselves. He never asked about the slap.

For the next couple of days, "D" and I were asked by several people to retell the story. Each time I sheepishly admitted that I could not bring myself to perform CPR on the girl and chose, instead, to slap the skin off of her, I was amazed to find that not one person gave me a hard time about it. I don't know if it's because they were just thankful it wasn't they who got there first, or if they felt they would do the same but I like to think they didn't say anything because, when it came right down to it, it worked.

Yeah, not one of my finer moments and not one that I'm particularly proud of, either. Afterall, I balked when I was supposed to be attempting to save a life, thinking only of my own germ-free self and ultimately whacking someone upside the face. I don't think they hold honor ceremonies for such things. In fact, I'm sure of it since there is no "Bitch-Slap-the-Life-Back-Into-Them" medal on my wall with a picture of me shaking the hand of Leona Helmsley.

That's probably a good thing.


Laurel said...

"Bitch-slap-the-life-back-into-them medal." I am laughing so hard my hands are weak and I'm finding it difficult to type.

Whatever happens, please oh please do not attempt "CPR" on me.

But that is one funny story!

DH said...

You crack me up, Baby!