Paramedic saves man who sawed arms

2013-04-12 09:01
Art Hurtado, Pasadena Fire captain and paramedic takes questions during a news conference in Pasadena, California. (Damian Dovarganes, AP)

Art Hurtado, Pasadena Fire captain and paramedic takes questions during a news conference in Pasadena, California. (Damian Dovarganes, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Los Angeles - Fire Captain Art Hurtado was making an off-duty visit to a home improvement store when he encountered a horrific sight - a man had deliberately cut his own arms to the bone with handsaws.

As others screamed, the veteran paramedic used materials from store shelves to stanch the bleeding.

"I kind of MacGyver-ed it," Hurtado said on Thursday, referring to the old TV drama about a secret agent who used whatever materials he could find to solve problems.

The incident occurred on Wednesday inside a Home Depot store in West Covina, a suburb east of Los Angeles. The man was all by himself when he injured himself, West Covina police Corporal Rudy Lopez said.

The victim of the self-mutilation remained hospitalised as investigators tried to determine why he hurt himself. As of now, the incident is being investigated as an attempted suicide.

The man, whose name wasn't released, underwent surgery and was in intensive care. Doctors were able to reattach his arms but will have to wait to see how effectively they were able to reconnect blood vessels and muscle as the man recovers, Lopez said.

Blood

Police said the man had grabbed several small saws, including one meant to cut drywall.

Hurtado, aged 51, who works for the Pasadena Fire Department, had stopped by the store with his wife to pick up material to replace the trim on his daughter's house.

He noticed police cars as he arrived. When officers pulled on medical gloves, Hurtado followed them into the store.

"It's just mayhem in there," he recalled. "Somebody's screaming in there as they're approaching the door that there's blood everywhere."

Hurtado saw blood in several aisles and people running around hysterically.

He walked down an aisle and saw police officers next to a man lying face down in a pool of blood.

No equipment

"It looks like a crime scene to me, a dead body," he said. "There's splatter everywhere, I'd say another 50, 75 feet of blood."

Hurtado told the store manager that he was a paramedic, and he was allowed to move in. He and the officers flipped the man over. He was barely breathing and had no neck pulse.

Hurtado knew he had to do something.

"I'm not on duty, I don't have all the equipment that I normally have," he said.

The 21-year veteran called for rope and said he would have used his shoelaces if none was available. Somebody grabbed a package of rope from a store shelf. Hurtado had a police officer cut 60cm sections and he used it and shop towels to make a tourniquet for one arm.

The man started to come around, moaning, and arriving West Covina paramedics took over.

Here to serve

Hurtado, who was working without protective gloves, cleaned up with hand sanitiser.

He said the man had cut through nerves, tendons and arteries to the bone above both elbows. Without fast medical help, he could have died, Hurtado said.

"It's just things you do instinctively. I'm here to serve," he said. "Any one of my brothers and sisters in the department would have done the same thing."

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.