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UND police officer honored for saving suicidal victim

When UND Police Sgt. Michael Pommerer found himself first on the scene of an attempted suicide, he used his EMT training and a medical kit he purchased himself to save the subject's life. He received a Lifesaving Award, on Thursday, Dec. 5, for his actions.

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UND police officer Michael Pommerer, right, accepts a life saving award from UND police chief Eric Plummer during a ceremony Thursday at UND. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

The way Michael Pommerer sees it, he was just doing what he had trained to do.

"It was kind of an average night," said Pommerer, a UND police sergeant. "I just kind of happened to be at the right place at the right time with the right equipment."

UND Police Chief Eric Plummer honored Pommerer with a Lifesaving Award in a ceremony Thursday, Dec. 5, at the UND Tech Accelerator for his actions, which saved a Grand Forks resident's life last month.

Plummer said that Pommerer's actions the night of Nov. 1 went above and beyond his regular dedication to the campus community.

"This was not on campus; this was adjacent to campus," Plummer said. "He heard the dispatch and immediately said, 'I can be the first one over there. I can help.'"

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Around 9 p.m. Nov. 1, Pommerer was on his regular patrol on campus when the Grand Forks Police Department put out a dispatch about a suicidal person near campus, Plummer said. Realizing he was closer to the incident than any GFPD units, Pommerer responded to the call.

When he arrived, he found a person with multiple self-inflicted lacerations on the wrists, neck and torso. As the first officer on the scene, he immediately used his EMT training using a medical kit he had purchased himself. Recognizing that a cut on the victim's carotid artery was the most urgent injury, he began treating it with combat gauze from his kit and maintained pressure on the wound as other responders arrived.

"He maintained pressure to the victim's neck all the way to Altru Hospital," Plummer said. "(The victim) survived the ordeal in no small part due to Sgt. Pommerer's actions. Everyone on the scene from paramedics to doctors who performed the surgery said he did such a great job preparing the neck wound that they could actually treat other less severe wounds first prior to actually packing the more severe neck wound."

Plummer said there is often a debate about whether police officers should be trained to give care before paramedics arrive to a scene. He said UND Police believe the answer is yes, and they currently have three EMT-certified officers in the department. Pommerer completed his EMT-Basic certification in December 2018. Officer Keith Rowan, who also has his EMT-Basic certification, was also recognized at the ceremony for his service and dedication to the campus community.

Also recognized were UND Police Sgt. Carlos Caro, officers Ian Woods and Austin Brockling for their completion of a Crisis Intervention Techniques Training program in Montana, which aims to teach officers de-escalation techniques and mental health first aid. Plummer said those officers brought what they learned back to the UND campus, and now every officer in the department has completed mental first aid training.

"We're grateful to have leaders like these officers protecting and serving our community," Plummer said.

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