Rookie officer brings back drowning victim

Published 12:33 am Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Police officers save lives every day by stopping a speeding car or telling some motorist to wear a seat belt.

But officers rarely have the opportunity to use CPR or other life-saving skills they learn at the academy.

On Monday night, rookie Selma Police Officer Jonathan Fank, who finished the academy on April 3, found himself calling on that newly acquired knowledge to save the life of a 40-year-old woman. The woman is not identified because the Selma Police Department does not identify victims to the media.

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“A male reported that a woman was drowning in the City Marina,” said Lt. David Evans.

“Officer Jonathan Fank, who is just out of the academy, responded to the call.”

The woman was unresponsive when Fank arrived.

“The man who reported the incident had just gotten the woman up onto the boat drop when I got there,” Fank said. “She wasn’t responding to my questions and her eyes were closed.”

The young officer said he doesn’t remember what went through his head when he got to the scene; he just acted. Fank started chest compressions on the woman. In a short while she coughed up the water in her lungs.

The woman was taken to the Vaughan Regional Medical Center by Care Ambulance and was treated there.

Fank said he was only doing his job, but other, veteran officers saw it differently.

“This will be an experience he never forgets,” Evans said. “He will remember this the rest of his hopefully very long career because he saved another person’s life. Thankfully he remembered his training and performed up to the expectations. Saving someone’s life is why we become police officers.”

Chief William T. Riley III, who swore in Fank on Jan. 9, said he was extremely pleased by the rookie’s quick action and thinking.

“It is always good to see training paying off,” he said. “Officer Fank didn’t wait to ask questions or to take action. He went and did exactly what he is supposed to do.”

Fank’s life-saving reflexes make this the second time in five months a police officer has saved a person’s life through CPR.

On March 7, officer Ronald Terry performed CPR on a woman outside the 12 Stone Club after security sprayed mace in the building. The mace caused a woman to stop breathing. Terry arrived on the scene and began CPR.

The woman went home that night without further aid.

“Our officers are dedicated to their job and they are going to go the extra mile regardless of who the person is,” Riley said. “We are going to continue to hire officers of this caliber.”