Nov. 21—NORWICH — Four Norwich police officers were recognized Monday for their swift actions Oct. 7 to track down and treat a suicidal man who had fled from the Backus Hospital emergency department and had slashed his arms, causing deep lacerations.
Norwich police Sgt. Avery Marsh and officers Ryan Dunn, Jared Szuba and Alexander Wojcik received the Backus Hospital Challenge Coin, an award bestowed on hospital employees and community partners who have exhibited heroic actions in saving a life, and letters of commendation signed by Backus President Donna Handley and hospital Public Safety Manager Robert Judd.
Judd presented the awards and letters of commendations on behalf of Handley to the officers prior to Monday's City Council meeting at City Hall. Council members responded with a standing ovation, and Mayor Peter Nystrom thanked the officers for their dedication to the city.
"Thank you so much for your commitment to the safety of Norwich citizens," Judd said.
On Oct. 7 at 7:28 p.m., Backus called Norwich police after a 22-year-old suicidal man, had fled the emergency department after having been transported to the hospital by Gardner Lake Volunteer Fire Department in Salem.
Several police officers, including Wojcik with his K-9 partner Tracer, searched the Backus grounds to no avail. Wojcik investigated the man's background and motor vehicle records and found a possible address for him on Town Street near the hospital.
Szuba and Dunn knocked on doors at the house, and Dunn saw what looked like a large amount of blood in the kitchen. Marsh broke a door, and officers went inside. While searching the home, officers found large amounts of blood "in many areas of the home," Marsh wrote in his report on the incident.
Marsh, Wojcik and Szuba forced their way into a locked first-floor bedroom and found the man wrapped in a blanket. The room had blood splattered on the walls and ceiling, Marsh reported.
Officers discovered deep cuts in the man's arms; his right arm bleeding steadily. The man was falling into unconsciousness. Officers applied tourniquets and tried to keep him awake.
American Ambulance brought the man back to Backus, where he was reported to be recovering, Marsh wrote.
"This incident captured the outstanding investigative work by Officers Szuba, Wojcik and Dunn," Marsh wrote, "in addition to the heroic life-saving measures by Officers Wojcik and Szuba to provide (the man) with immediate medical care."
Help is available 24/7 for anyone with suicidal thoughts. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 or text HOME to 741741. Learn more about suicide prevention at www.preventsuicidect.org.