Defender saves man’s life

Staff Sgt. Justin Jarrett, a Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 507th Security Forces Squadron, stands for a photo May 10, 2018, at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.As a civilian police officer, Jarrett received a Life Saver Award from the Oklahoma City Police Department in May 2018 for administering life-saving CPR to a local citizen in December 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

Staff Sgt. Justin Jarrett, a Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 507th Security Forces Squadron, stands for a photo May 10, 2018, at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. As a civilian police officer, Jarrett received a Life Saver Award from the Oklahoma City Police Department in May 2018 for administering life-saving CPR to a local citizen in December 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

It was one week before Christmas in 2017 when Officer Justin Jarrett and two other Oklahoma City police officers were dispatched to respond to a “trouble unknown” emergency call on the northwest side of the metro.

Jarrett, who is also a Reserve Citizen Airman assigned to the 507th Security Forces Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and two other officers were in their patrol cars and located within a mile of the emergency.  

All three responded to the scene immediately.

“We weren’t really sure what we were going into,” Jarrett said. “We pulled up to the house within a minute of the call coming out, and when the caller answered the door she just pointed to the back bedroom.”

The group of officers ran into the bedroom to find an unresponsive, unconscious man on the bed.

“First, we checked him for a pulse,” Jarrett said. “We couldn’t find a pulse, so we immediately moved him to the floor to begin CPR.”

Jarrett said he began chest compressions while the other officers monitored the man’s airway, looking for signs of breathing.

According to Jarrett, fire departments and paramedics ideally arrive on scene first, due to the strategic placement of fire stations. But that day, the nearest fire department was responding to another emergency and the call went to a station farther away.

“It was just the three of us performing CPR for that entire time,” Jarrett said. “They arrived about 15 minutes after we did, and I continued compressions while they set up their equipment.”

Once the paramedics and firefighters arrived, they took over and spent 20 to 25 minutes alternating between CPR and the defibrillator until the patient was transported to the hospital.

“Once the patient is in the ambulance, that’s usually the last that thing that we hear,” Jarrett said. “We respond to the next call and continue working.”

This time was different. A few weeks after the incident, Jarrett’s lieutenant from the police department called to inform him that the man’s 7-year-old daughter sent a card to the officers to show her gratitude for saving her father’s life.

The lieutenant had more good news for Jarrett, delivered from the man’s doctor.

“According to the doctor, our quick response time and the quality of our chest compressions are what saved his life,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett said that he has performed CPR less than 10 times during his three-year tenure as a police officer, often on drug users or elderly citizens.

“You don’t really think about CPR while you’re doing it, you just know what you have to do and you just start doing it,” Jarrett said. “It changes your perspective when the person is close to your age and their family is right there. We all did what we could to ensure our efforts made a difference for that family.”

Jarrett’s actions resulted in his being awarded the Life Saver Award at the Oklahoma City Police Department annual awards banquet in May 2018. 

Jarrett’s Air Force Reserve supervisor of two years, Master Sgt. David Smith of the 507th SFS, said Jarrett is an exceptional performer.

“When he started in our unit, he took over the emergency management program,” Smith said. “We didn’t have to guide him, he ran with it and made it his own.”

Hearing the news of Jarrett receiving an award for his civilian police officer duty was no surprise, according to Smith.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less from Staff Sgt. Jarrett,” Smith said.