Saint Paul police officers honored for saving lives

One man was shot in the chest. Another had a bullet puncture his femoral artery. And then there was the woman who attempted suicide.

All three were saved by Saint Paul police officers.

On Tuesday, May 7, Saint Paul Chief of Police Todd Axtell presented Life Saving Awards to five officers who helped save the lives of three people in need over the past year.

“Our officers respond to nearly 250,000 calls for service each year. They never know what they’ll encounter or who will need their help,” he said. “Each call is an opportunity to change a person’s life for the better—sometimes it’s a chance to save their lives.

“Each of these officers used their skills, training and compassion to save a life, and I could not be more proud of them.”

The honorees include:

Officer Mathew Jones

Jones is an eight-year veteran currently working patrol out of the Western District. On Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 he was sent to the 700 block of Portland Avenue on a report of an aggravated assault.

Upon arrival, Jones and other officers found a man suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. Jones immediately used a T-shirt to apply direct, occlusive pressure on the wound until St. Paul Fire medics could arrive.

According to Captain Kenneth Adams, St. Paul Fire’s EMS coordinator, Jones’ efforts likely saved the victim’s life.

“While the saving of a life is generally attributed to the hospital and responding EMS crews, the officers who take those initial actions, such as Officer Jones, should receive the lion’s share of the credit,” said Adams. “For if it were not for them and their actions, the EMS crews and hospital staff would not have a patient to work with.”

The victim in this case was treated by medics, transported to Regions Hospital and survived.

Officers Alexander Graham and Peng Lee
The call came in at 3:26 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. A man had been shot while sitting in his vehicle behind a residence on the 400 block of Charles Avenue.

Officer Peng Lee, who has been with the department for eight years, was the first to arrive.

He found a man inside the vehicle, bleeding profusely from his left leg. The victim had a self-made tourniquet tied around his leg, and a passenger was applying pressure.

Soon the passenger fainted and began to fall over.

Officer Lee assisted the passenger to the ground and began to apply direct pressure to the gunshot wound. He could see blood seeping through the tourniquet, so he pressed harder.

A short time later, Officer Alexander Graham, a two-year veteran with the department, arrived.

He quickly applied a fresh tourniquet to the victim’s leg and cinched it down tight. Soon St. Paul Fire medics arrived, cared for the victim and transported him to Regions Hospital.

He survived.

According to Dr. Aaron Burnett, the assistant medical director at Regions Hospital, the officers saved the victim’s life.

“There is absolutely no doubt that Officer Graham and Officer Lee saved this individual’s life,” he said. “This wound, if not attended by officers, would have been 100 percent fatal.”

Officers Charles Lemon and Michael Kempe

On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Officers Charles Lemon, a six-year veteran, and Mike Kempe, a two-year veteran, were out on patrol when they heard a call come over the radio about a woman on the 1300 block of Virginia Street who was attempting suicide while on FaceTime with a friend. 

Officers quickly made their way to the home and were initially denied access.

Knowing that time could mean the difference between life and death, they made their way into the apartment and searched for the woman. Initially she couldn’t be found, but then they learned she may be in a locked bedroom.

The officers announced themselves but received no reply. So Lemon used his shoulder to force open the door and that’s where they saw her hanging by her neck from a piece of cloth that had been tied around a closet rod.

Lemon immediately grabbed the woman and lifted her upwards while removing the piece of cloth from her neck. He then placed her gently on the ground.

Kempe positioned her to clear her airway and prevent further injury to her spine and neck. Thankfully, and before the officers could perform CPR, she began breathing again.

St. Paul Fire medics were called and the woman was transported to the hospital.

She lived.