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Officer honored for saving suicidal man

Given police commendation


The Enterprise

For a police officer, emergency situations come with the territory, and certainly an officer never knows what his hours on duty will bring. April 18, 2011, turned into an extraordinary day on patrol for Bingen-White Salmon Police Officer Ben Harvey.

On April 18, a Monday, Officer Harvey was patrolling in the community when an emergency call came through.

"I received a call of a person attempting suicide in Bingen with a knife," Harvey explained.

When Harvey arrived, he discovered a young man who had tried to take his own life by stabbing himself in the neck. Harvey's actions from that point forward not only helped save the man's life, but exemplified a police officer performing in the best traditions of law enforcement service.

As emergency medical personnel responded, Harvey began applying pressure on the man's deep neck wound with gauze pads in an attempt to slow the bleeding. Harvey then rode in the ambulance to Skyline Hospital, maintaining pressure on the man's wound. He continued to apply pressure until an emergency medical team in a LifeFlight helicopter arrived to transport the man to a Portland hospital.

"We weren't sure for awhile, but he pulled through and survived," Harvey said.

In all, Harvey was at the man's side working to stem the flow of his blood for about an hour and a half.

In a commendation dated May 17, Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes explained Harvey's actions as follows:

"You immediately secured the scene and upon doing so you provided first aid to the victim by applying direct pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding," read an excerpt of the commendation. "You continued this en route to the hospital as well as a long period of time while at the emergency room. Your actions on this call possibly saved the victim's life, and it is clear you went above and beyond the call of duty. Your dedication to your duties on this date did not go unnoticed."

On Monday, Barnes praised Harvey's actions as among the best she has been aware of.

"Saving a life is really quite an accomplishment," Barnes said, pointing out that this is the first commendation she has presented as mayor. "I believe this reached the top. Saving a life is very significant. I think every officer in the department goes out and protects us on a daily basis, and they never know when an event like this can occur. They are well trained to address these situations."

Harvey said his actions were just part of his job.

"I was honored to get the commendation, but I made it clear that everybody in the Police Department deserves this," said Harvey. "A lot of times, law enforcement will jump in and do what we need to do. It's all part of the job."

Harvey added that he was gratified his efforts had a positive outcome.

"We see so much and deal with so much bad stuff, we don't give it a thought and just move on," he said. "This was something good, and that's good for refocusing on the work we do."


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