Awards recognize life-saving actions

  • Thu Sep 5th, 2019 1:30am
  • News

By Michael Lang

Grays Harbor News Group

The Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office and Elma Police Department recognized several officers and citizens Wednesday, Aug. 28 for their life-saving actions.

Sgt. Tracy Gay received the Sheriff’s Office Meritorious Service Medal for his actions while off duty April 30.

“I believe in a higher power,” Gay said. “… The Lord puts us where we need to be.”

That spring day, he was looking to get his car tabs. But the person who issued the tabs was out to lunch. He decided to pass the time by visiting East County Guns but couldn’t find parking. So he ended up at the Elma Dennis Company Ace hardware store.

That’s where he witnessed a crash with a man pinned between two vehicles.

THE CRASH

As an emergency room registered nurse, Nick Greeley knows a thing or two about life-or-death situations.

On April 30 of this year, he was running errands at the hardware store in Elma.

Nearby, a man parking his vehicle crashed it into a truck which lurched forward and pinned Greeley between the truck and his vehicle.

Both of Greeley’s legs were broken and one was “bleeding profusely,” according to reports.

Greeley’s training as a nurse meant he knew he could die from his injuries.

“A normal person would have been passed out, but not Nick,” Gay said. “He was talking us through first aid, telling us what we needed to do.”

Gay went into the store to ask for a tourniquet but all they had to offer was a belt, which he applied to stunt the bleeding. Greeley also wears a belt specifically designed to be used as an emergency tourniquet, which was added to the leg.

Bystanders Babette Brinkley, Rick Green and Larry Holcomb didn’t just stand back watching. At Gay’s urging, they helped administer first aid.

Elma Police Officer Josh Goffena arrived on the scene. He provided a Combat Application Tourniquet, which also was applied to the leg.

Elma Police Chief Susan Shultz also arrived on scene.

“I was checking everything out, and all of the sudden, I hear this, ‘Chief! Chief!’ ” Shultz said. “I looked down and was like, Nick?

“And he starts telling me, ‘I’m OK. Call the hospital, talk to this person. Tell them I need this, this and this and have this on hand.’ ” she recalled him saying. “I’m like, ‘OK.’ ”

She said that Greeley’s actions actually saved his life.

THE CEREMONY

Several dozen people gathered Wednesday at the County Commission meeting room in Montesano.

Scott told the crowd that because Gay was off duty, he didn’t qualify for the department’s life-saving award. That’s why he was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal.

Scott also presented “challenge coins” to Brinkley, Green, Holcomb and Greeley.

Shultz gave Brinkley, Green and Holcomb Outstanding Citizenship Awards for their actions that helped save Greeley’s life.

Shultz also gave Goffena a Life Saving Award, which Greeley presented to him.

After receiving the award, Goffena said the tourniquet used was one of two given to him by a friend, a combat medic who was amazed he didn’t carry them.

“It was a gift that kept giving,” Goffena said.

Shultz also recognized “Team Nick,” Greeley’s Summit Pacific emergency room co-workers who were on hand after helping save his life in April.

EARLIER BRUSH WITH DEATH

This is not the first time Greeley’s life had been on the line.

In April 1993, Greeley fell 150 feet while hiking in Arizona. He suffered a “crushed forehead, nose and skull fractures,” according to a report in The Daily World.

Arizona media called his survival a “miracle.”

Greeley still is recovering from his injuries. He still has nerve damage and is going through therapy. But he’s walking with the help of a walking stick, and he hopes to return to work soon.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Greeley said to all involved.