Cape Elizabeth Police Officer Rory Benjamin and his partner Aaron Webster are receiving praise from the South Portland Fire Department for their quick thinking, which one paramedic said stopped a South Portland man from bleeding to death last month.

Benjamin said he has responded to his share of life-or-death medical calls, but he had never used a tourniquet to save a man’s life before Feb. 25.

“It was not the kind of call we usually see in Cape Elizabeth, but it was interesting, let’s put it that way,” Benjamin said this week.

Cape Elizabeth Police Officer Aaron Webster has been recognized for his part in saving a man’s life in South Portland last month. Contributed / Cape Elizabeth Police Department

South Portland Fire Department Public Information Officer Rob Couture said the call came in at 5:58 p.m. from a residence at 22 Greeley St., less than half a mile from the Cape Elizabeth border. A man, whom Couture declined to identify, had accidentally shot himself. The department’s central station would normally send its ambulance, but it was already on a call, Couture said.

An ambulance from the department’s Western Avenue station was dispatched instead, but it turned out Officers Benjamin and Webster were closer. Both Benjamin, a 13-year department veteran, and Webster, who had 16 years on the job, knew that on calls like this, dispatch often asks for mutual aid, so they were already on their way.

“We were the first ones through the door,” Webster said.

At a glance, both officers could tell what had happened: The man was cleaning his handgun at a table when it went off. The victim had made it into the next room, the kitchen, but had likely hit a key artery with the bullet.

“The entire floor was covered in blood,” Webster recalled.

Fenton said all his officers are trained as EMTs, a practice that started years ago when the town did not have full-time emergency medical technicians. In addition, Webster had gunshot treatment-specific training from his six years in the Air National Guard, and Benjamin had worked as an EMT for York Ambulance Service.

So even though South Portland paramedics were only seconds behind them, both officers knew they only had seconds to do something. They began applying tourniquets, which all Cape Elizabeth police officers are equipped with, and as the paramedics got to work, Webster and Benjamin helped stabilize the man before he was taken to the hospital. This week, Couture said the victim is recovering.

Joshua Pobrislo, a paramedic with South Portland Fire’s Engine 48, was in charge at the scene, but gave credit to both Webster and Benjamin for saving the patient’s life.

Cape Elizabeth Police Officer Rory Benjamin, who, along with his partner, is being nominated for a commendation after responding to a medical emergency in South Portland last month. Contributed / Cape Elizabeth Police Department

“Because of their actions, the situation went a lot differently than it could have,” he said.

Pobrislo said other South Portland medical personnel were also on the scene, but the presence of Webster and Benjamin was as unusual as it was welcome.

“It’s outside their normal role,” he said. “We’re expected to do that.”

Pobrislo was so impressed, he said, that he sent a letter to Cape Elizabeth officials recommending the officers be honored for their help. Fenton agreed, saying he has nominated both officers for awards from the Maine Chiefs of Police Association and the Maine Association of Police.

Fenton said his officers benefited from their training and advanced technology, including new dual-band radios that allowed them not just to hear, but directly communicate with South Portland dispatch during the incident.

“Everything kind of lined up, with equipment and training,” he said.

Cape Elizabeth Town Manager Matt Sturgis also praised both officers for their actions.

“I couldn’t be more proud of both of them,” he said. “It’s an amazing tribute to their professionalism and dedication.”

Both officers insisted that they didn’t save the man alone, but said they appreciated the recognition.

“That is meaningful, for sure,” Webster said.

 

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