The Gilbert Fire Department has recognized police officer Andrew Bates for his efforts in trying to save the life of a man who had both legs severed in a train accident last month.
“Outside of the job, Andy’s just a really good, all-around person,” said Officer Matt Martindale.
Bates was honored at last Thursday’s Town Council meeting.
The man, who ultimately died from his extensive injuries, received a tourniquet on each leg from Bates, who received additional medical training in the last year.
“Paramedics said they really should have rolled up on to a body,” said Martindale, who led the tactical medic training. “He should have died on the scene.”
Instead, Patrick Zennar was later pronounced deceased at a local hospital after all attempts to keep him alive were exhausted.
The training was originally intended to help during situations when firefighters or paramedics would be unable to enter a scene to deliver medical care, such as during an active shooting, Martindale said. But it also means that police have the training and tools to provide additional first response medical treatment to Gilbert residents and police officers.
“It’s one of those hit-or-miss things; a lot of the time we can get there before Fire,” said Martindale.
Beyond training, which began last fall, police officers also began carrying extra medical equipment, including tourniquets and QuikClot bandages, that help clot gunshot and other deep wounds.
“I feel that I’m able to take care of ourselves and others better,” Martindale said. “I know that my buddies have tools…. As an officer, I don’t have to be helpless, and that’s very reassuring.”
On July 3, Bates was the first responder to a report that a man had been hit by a train.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to speak with you and I’m thankful for the Town Council and Chief DeWitt for recognizing all of us that night,” Andy Bates said in a video at the council meeting. “It’s not just me who performed my duty that night.”
Bates, who is also a member of the Army National Guard, was unable to accept the award in person because he deployed to Afghanistan on Aug. 12.
“Through training, we were able to deliver a higher level of service,” he said, mentioning the firefighters from Fire Station 10, who also responded to the scene.
“I want to say thank you to the Town Council for supporting our chief and supporting the police officers in trying to provide high levels of service,” Bates said.
The award was accepted by his wife, Mia, and their five children, Keegan, Orrin, Melia, Alena and Gunnar.
“He’s always wanted to help people and serve people,” Mia Bates said. They had been married eight years when her husband left a career in litigation support to become a police officer.
Bates enlisted in the National Guard two years ago and this is his first deployment, which is expected to last a year, according to his wife.
“He loves it,” Mia Bates said. “He’s just born to serve, to serve his country, to serve his family, to serve others.”
While he’s away, his family started a new morning tradition, she said.
Each morning, each of the five children takes a kiss from one of five jars filled with 2,000 Hershey kisses.
“It’s a kiss in the morning,” she said. “It’s a kiss from dad.”
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