UC Merced officers honored after medical aid call

MERCED, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A ceremony was held for UC Merced officers on Monday who were recognized with Lifesaving Medals, an award not given often, after responding to a medical call on campus.

UC Merced police officers Enrique Rodriguez and Brian Carbaugh were on routine patrol on July 26. Officers say Carvaugh had recently joined the department and was undergoing field training with Rodriguez.

At 6:22 p.m., they were dispatched to the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation Center on campus for a medical aid call. A gentleman who had been involved in a pickup basketball game had collapsed.

“The report was that someone was having a heart attack,” said Chief Chou Her. “When they arrived, people were performing CPR and attaching the automatic external defibrillator.”

In addition to the apparent heart attack, Her says the man was bleeding after hitting his head as he fell. A doctor who also had been part of the basketball game helped administer the automated external defibrillator (AED), but the man fell back into cardiac arrest as the device recharged.

“The officers jumped in and started performing CPR,” Her said. “It’s one thing to do it in a classroom, and another to do it when it really counts. And then to do it in front of a crowd.”

The AED was recharged, and officers say the man was revived and taken to a local medical center for treatment.

On Monday, a ceremony was hosted where Rodriguez and Carbaugh were recognized with UC Lifesaving Medals for their efforts.

“To this day, the patient is in good health,” said Her. “If CPR was not performed, the patient might not have lived.”

According to Her, this award is not often given.

“We’ve only had this awarded once before on our campus,” the chief said.

“These officers did not seek this recognition,” Her said. “I thank them both for standing up to do the right thing without hesitation.”

For the award to be given, a UC police chief makes a nomination, and then all 10 chiefs from the UC campuses review the reports and the bodycam footage and vote on it.

“One chief can veto the award,” Her said.

Her says to help somebody to live is a major accomplishment.

“Responding to a crime is easy. Responding when someone needs our help to live to the next day is a major, major accomplishment.”

Rodriguez says the impact of what had happened hit him a couple of weeks later.

“He got to see his son at a basketball camp,” Rodriguez said of the patient. “There is a son who got to see his father. I’m glad we were in the right place at the right time.”

At the same ceremony, Her administered the oath of office to the campus’s newest officer, Kenneth Le.

“It’s a great pleasure to be here,” Le said. “I can’t wait to be part of this team. They work together to solve problems, and I’m all about it.”

Le comes to the campus from Santa Clara, where he served as a corrections officer. He and his family live in Merced.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to YourCentralValley.com.