Flagstaff officer commended for saving a life with the help of random bystander
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Flagstaff officer commended for saving a life with the help of random bystander

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Flagstaff Police Department

Flagstaff Police Department officer Luke Millions was recently awarded for saving a man who had lost his pulse after he was struck by a vehicle on the east side of Flagstaff.

Millions was given one of three lifesaving awards from the Flagstaff Police Department to honor exemplary work officers had done throughout the past year. Officers Denton Schneider and Jordan Schiffman were awarded for quickly assessing and resuscitating a man who had gone unconscious in the middle of the roadway, while officers Tyler Romney and Cody Roberts were awarded for stopping a suicide attempt.

Charles Hernandez, spokesman for Flagstaff police, said the officers were excited and humbled at a recent event where the officers were singled out for their actions.

“We are basically trained as first responders to take action to preserve life, in keeping with our mission,” Hernandez said. “I think it’s one of the greatest things we can do in this profession is saving someone else’s life.”

The night of the incident in May 2019, Millions said was sitting in his parked car at the intersection of East Lockett Road and North Fanning Drive near Thomas Elementary School. At around 8:58 p.m., he was halfway through his shift and filling out paperwork like any other day.

Suddenly dispatchers sent an alert out on the radio that a person had been hit by a vehicle at 3686 E. Route 66, which was just down the street.

Millions said he was on scene within a minute, before dispatchers had the time to shed more details on what had happened.

He found the man on the ground with a cut on his right side, still breathing heavy beneath Flagstaff’s intermittent amber lights.

Police reports show that detectives found that the man had illegally crossed the street by not crossing at a crosswalk and checking for traffic before stepping onto the road. He was struck by the side of the car and likely vaulted from the impact.

Detectives assumed the young driver had likely hit the man driving at about 40 miles per hour, the speed limit for the road, which sent the man sliding and tumbling 33 feet and across two asphalt lanes.

The victim, who is believed to be transient, could not be reached for this article.

“I blocked him with my car and my lights on to and stopped another car from hitting him,” Millions said.

As Millions exited his car, he saw that the man had a long, deep laceration on his side. Millions found the man’s pulse and saw his eyes were still open. In order to better assess the man’s wounds, Millions took out his pocket knife and began to cut the man’s clothes off.

He said he had never seen the man before, but Millions knew he had to save him.

 “As I started to apply pressure, he stopped breathing,” Millions said.

The officer checked his pulse again, and the man didn’t have one.

He immediately began CPR in an attempt to get the man’s heart pumping again. He kept doing the compressions for about 45 seconds, Millions said.

But then, out of the darkness, a woman came to Millions side. She asked if she could tilt the man’s head.  

“She knelt down and asked, can I do this, and it was the exact thing that needed to be done,” Millions said. “She obviously had some training somewhere.”

By tilting the man’s head, the woman allowed the man to have more access to oxygen, Millions said.

“When she did it, he coughed one more time,” Millions said. He kept pushing on the man’s heart for what Millions said felt like a minute and a half. Then, Millions heard a gasp of air.

“He started to breathe again,” Millions said.

The man sat up and his eyes opened as he took huge breaths and spit up blood, Millions said. The man stayed on the ground, and Millions kept him awake by rubbing his shoulder, and spoke with him in the middle of the street as trained medics arrived on scene.

The medics quickly carted the man, who was still in critical condition, to the Flagstaff Medical Center for treatment. Due to Millions and the help of an unknown bystander, the man was expected to fully recover.

Millions was awarded by his superiors, and honored by Police Chief Kevin Treadway, for his actions.

“We do it because we overall want to help,” Millions said. “While we’re doing it, we’re not thinking we’re going to get an award for it. We’re just trying to do as much as we can before paramedics get there.”

But despite the department commendation, Millions was thankful to that woman, whose name he never got. He said he was surprised that someone would step in, without gloves, to help this man who had just been struck.

 “I’m glad she was brave enough to step up and help me,” Millions said.

For him, the entire event is an example of why he got into this job.

“I think that’s the prime example of the little Flagstaff community still being a close knit community, and people trusting each other to do what’s right,” Millions said.

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