As gun violence continues to plague Portland, police officers are often the first ones on the scene to render medical aid to shooting victims while they wait for medics to arrive.
Portland police officers Justin Raphael and Tyler Wyatt are familiar with this experience after responding to a recent shooting.
“All we knew for certain was somebody had been shot,” Raphael, a 10-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), told KGW 8. “It was clear that he was in grave condition. He was going in and out of consciousness.”
The officers responded to gunshots, and on arrival, a crowd of people showed the officers to the victim, who was lying in an apartment doorway with a gun beside him and losing a lot of blood.
“We have no knowledge of what we are going into, just that there were gunshots. So at this point, we don’t know if the shooter is still there or not,” Wyatt recalled.
Raphael said that despite this unknown, they decided to risk their lives to provide whatever medical assistance they could.
“We had to make a decision to sacrifice our own safety in those moments and go into this scene to begin to save a life,” Raphael said.
The officer believed the victim had been hit in the femoral artery, which is a mortal wound without prompt surgery.
“At this point, it’s a matter of he’s going to have to go into surgery 100% to get this solved, but we need to give him a little bit more time,” Wyatt explained. “So anything we can do to give him more time is going to increase his chances of living.”
Fortunately, both officers were trained in first aid and were carrying first aid kits known as IFAKs. Wyatt applied some hemostatic gauze to the wound to stop the bleeding, while Raphael applied a tourniquet before EMS arrived.
Raphael also provided critical emotional support.
“At one point, he just asked if I’d hold his hand, which was a pretty intense moment,” Raphael said. “I did, and I just told him, ‘Hey, keep squeezing my hand. Stay with me.’”
He even held the victim’s hand as medics loaded him into the ambulance minutes later.
Wyatt said that it is common for officers to be the first one’s to provide medical aid to shooting victims.
“I think that gets lost on a lot of people. That sometimes as officers, we’re the first component of that emergency aid,” Wyatt said.
Raphael said the incident was fairly routine.
“This scene kind of highlights the dynamic encounters we see on a pretty consistent basis. We came into with multiple callers who had little information …We have one job to do first, which is to do police-related activity right away. Secure the scene and ensure it’s safe to allow other agencies to come in. The second hat we put on is rendering aid. Sometimes we are the first component of that emergency aid,” he explained.
In 2021, 388 people were shot in the city, with 90 dead. In 2022, 66 people have been injured in shootings.
The state of the victim in this shooting is unknown.
“I’m glad you’re still with us,” Raphael said in a message of support to the victim. “I would do it again. I’m happy you’re here.”
Police have not made any arrests in the case.