UPPER MARLBORO - “He was lifeless. He had no pulse,” Master Cpl. John Nicholson said of an inmate who attempted suicide at the county detention center.
Nicholson is one of eight Prince George’s Department of Corrections officers who helped resuscitate this inmate, who is now making a full recovery under hospital supervision.
On Dec. 29, Prince George’s County Assistant Fire Chief for EMS Brian Frankel, Assistant Fire Chief Tony Hughes and an EMS supervisor recognized these officers during the detention center’s regular morning roll call.
Nicholson, Cpl. Samuel Aguocha, Cpl. Jean Nguep, Sgt. Kurt Moore, Cpl. Earl Jones, Cpl. Matthew Eckard, Cpl. Daniel Morgan and Cpl. Horace Stanback received the Fire Chief’s Award and challenge coins. The Fire Department hands out the challenge coins to their service members who save someone’s life.
“We thought they were very deserving of them,” Frankel said.
Yolonda Smedley, assistant chief of human resources at the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections, said this is the first time in at least five years that another agency has come to the facility to recognize corrections department officers.
The lifesaving action took place on Dec. 6, as the 7 a.m. shift was finishing up their routine checks of each cell. They found one inmate hanging from a light fixture from his bed sheets.
Housing officers Aguocha and Nguep called the signal 89-H, which designates a hanging.
The two officers got him down from the light fixture and discovered he did not have a pulse. They immediately began Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The six-member emergency response team then arrived and began performing CPR in shifts.
For more than 11 minutes.
“We were breathing hard, we were tired,” Nicholson said.
Paramedics with the Fire Department came and then hooked up a cardiac monitor to the man.
“Before you know it, they were giving us high-fives, saying, ‘this guy has a pulse,’” Nicholson said. “We were very happy and satisfied...We don’t want anyone to die around here. Our job is to protect and provide and to promote, and we take that very seriously.”
Smedley said during 2017, at least one person died by suicide in the detention center.
“With us having 15,000 to 20,000 inmates in and out of our facility throughout the year, people do attempt suicide,” she said. “So it is something that every team member who works at the jail is trained to recognize the symptoms of and to foil those attempts hopefully.”
Nicholson said these symptoms might include when someone stops eating or has personality shifts.
“Normally when we save someone from a suicide attempt, although we call 911 and take them to the hospital for observation, we don’t have to bring them back. We usually catch them before they passed out or whatever, so normally we don’t have to bring them back,”
Smedley said. “This individual we had to bring back. He didn’t have a pulse.”
Frankel said the incident underscores the importance of CPR.
“CPR really does save lives,” he said.
The inmate has been sent to a hospital for psychological evaluation. He does not know the identities of the officers who helped resuscitate him.
About a week after the incident, Nicholson escorted the inmate through the hallway on his way to court, and the two joked together.
“It was a sense of enjoyment,” Nicholson said. “To bring a life back (of) someone that we thought was gone...and a week and a half later, to be walking him through the hallways, is amazing.”