On June 20, 2010, at approximately 10:00 pm, Deputy Sheriff’s Jimmy Watson and Jonathon Rhodes responded to a vehicle crash at County Road 18 and Legree Rd in Ft. White, FL. Upon their arrival, the Deputies discovered a heavily damaged Kia in a ditch. A female was found to be partially ejected from the vehicle.
Deputy Watson immediately began to assess the patient and found that she was having difficulty breathing due to her position in the car. Deputy Watson advised Columbia County dispatch to expedite Fire/Rescue. While waiting for Fire/Rescue to respond, Deputy Watson crouched next to the vehicle and supported the patient with his body. He was able to support her head in his hands and straighten her body enough that he could hear air entering her lungs, alleviating her breathing difficulties.
Deputy Rhodes could smell gasoline and saw smoke coming from the engine compartment. No fire was visible but Deputy Rhodes stood by as fire watch and handled radio communications so that Deputy Watson could hold the patient without movement. Deputy Rhodes also examined the twisted car for other passengers, finding no other patients.
Columbia County Fire/Rescue arrived on scene and began to cut parts of the vehicle away so the patient could be extricated. Deputy Watson, with the assistance of Deputy Randy Dowling, held the patient still and protected her from the extrication process. The patient was taken by ambulance to a helicopter landing zone and flown to an area hospital for treatment. The Florida Highway Patrol took over the crash investigation and is the primary investigative agency. Deputies Watson and Rhodes then made contact with the patient’s husband and advised him on what had occurred and where she was being flown to.
Without regard for their own safety, Deputy Watson and Deputy Rhodes acted swiftly and without hesitation to provide life saving first aid to the patient. Without their intervention, the patient may not have survived the crash.