By Ryan Yousefi
An off duty member of the Coral Springs Fire Department is being hailed a hero after some quick thinking, saving the life of a young pedestrian who was left fighting for her life after being struck by a vehicle.
The Coral Springs Fire Department recently received a letter from the Palm Beach Fire Rescue thanking eight-year veteran Lieutenant Kevin O’Connell for his heroic actions while off-duty.
O’Connell was in the area of a chaotic scene that occurred on June 6 at 10:30 pm on 441 near Wellington. The accident involved a pedestrian who had been recently struck by a vehicle and left in critical condition. Lieutenant O’Connell, traveling southbound towards Coral Springs, happened upon the scene and stopped in hopes of providing help to what he assumed was a motor vehicle crash.
According to the report, the victim, a 19-year-old female, had exited her vehicle to assess a flat tire when she was struck by another car, causing extremely critical injuries to both of her legs. The driver of the car that hit her left the scene of the accident.
According to Lt. O’Connell, he approached the scene and quickly realized what he was dealing with was not just an accident, but an emergency situation that called for some quick action and immediate medical intervention.
“As I made contact with the patient, she was lying on her stomach, screaming, but conscious.” Lt. O’Connell said. He added that the victim’s legs were in such bad shape; they were both nearly amputated.
While he gathered himself and went into action, others called 911. As the group waited for Palm Beach rescue to arrive, Lt. O’Connell worked to stop what is described in the report as a massive amount of bleeding. If not for the immediate medical attention, the victim was in jeopardy of passing away.
“I quickly grabbed my emergency supplies from my vehicle and applied a tourniquet to her left leg, which was in the worst shape,” he said. “As I was about to apply a second tourniquet to her right leg, Palm Beach rescue arrived.”
At that time, Palm Beach Rescue took over the scene and attended to the victim. Lt. O’Connell didn’t leave, however. He stayed with the victim as she was being treated.
“I kept her and her significant other calm as she continued to receive life-saving medical attention.”
In the letter received by the Coral Springs Fire Department, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue thanked Lt. O’Connell for his actions.
“It is my pleasure to inform you of the heroic actions of one of the officers in your department.” the Palm Beach Fire Rescue letter reads. “Without the professional assistance of Lt. O’Connell, the following incident could, and would have most likely had a very different outcome.”
The letter then goes on to describe the scene from Palm Beach Rescue.
“The incident was dispatched as a motor vehicle versus pedestrian accident, and PBFR units were en route to the scene. Fortunately for the pedestrian involved, Lt. O’Connell was traveling on the same road and had already arrived upon this horrific and chaotic scene.” the letter read.
“If not for Lieutenant O’Connell’s quick actions, the patient would have likely become unstable and unconscious before we could deliver them to the trauma facility. Lt. O’Connell worked under extreme duress with skill and professionalism.”
According to Lt. O’Connell, the 19-year-old female is now in stable condition, having sadly lost one of her legs due to the incident. He adds that she will reportedly begin rehab this week, and he hopes he can one day meet her once she has recovered.
He says the entire ordeal was just a case of him happening to be traveling on 441, even though he had planned to take the Turnpike home. He says plans changed at the request of a passenger.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I did was any trained professional that was on the scene would have done.”
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