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Police officers, sergeant awarded for life-saving acts

September 29, 2016 GMT

POCATELLO — Being a cop is often a thankless career, and many officers know this before swearing to protect and serve their respective cities, states or counties.

However, the Pocatello Police Department honored some of its own on Wednesday in the packed Pocatello City Council chambers for their efforts in saving the lives of two local residents.

“We’ve had more lifesaving awards this summer than we have in the last four years,” said Pocatello Police Chief Scott Marchand. “We haven’t done it for a long a time, and we’re doing it weekly right now. I’m very proud of the work the officers do, and it’s an honor to work with them.”

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Officers Bridget McArthur, Jordan Johnson and Eric Bills and Sgt. Scott Matson received the department’s Lifesaving Award for their quick wit and heroic actions.

Johnson and McArthur received the commendation after they responded to a home in the 100 block of North Hayes Avenue after a report of a female was unconscious and not breathing because of a suspected drug overdose.

McArthur said that upon arrival the victim’s boyfriend was reluctant to let officers investigate the matter but she could tell by his body language that there was more to the story.

“It just didn’t feel right,” McArthur said. “The boyfriend was trying to push it off, saying it wasn’t a big deal, but I felt like I had to see her and make sure she was OK.”

Once inside the residence, they found the female lying on a mattress with no pulse and her skin was turning blue. Immediately, the officers began to perform CPR with McArthur performing chest compressions while Johnson kept her airway clear.

Eventually, the victim’s pulse returned, and she began to breathe on her own. Once conscious, McArthur, who joined the force last December, spoke to the victim, keeping her from slipping back into unconsciousness until paramedics arrived.

Both Bills and Matson were dispatched to a home on West Fremont Street and found a man on the ground with a severe wound to his lower leg. The laceration severed an artery, causing massive amounts of blood loss.

A citizen, Marisol Arevalo, attempted to stop the bleeding by applying pressure on the wound with a towel.

“I knew something bad could happen,” she said. “The man was like a brother to me so I had do something.”

Bills and Matson proceeded to apply a tourniquet. The victim was transported to the hospital where an attending physician relayed that had it not been for their application of the tourniquet, the man likely would have died.

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“I feel extremely proud,” Bills said. “This was a total team effort. We had an excellent citizen respond, and our dispatchers facilitated everything. Actually, the dispatchers are my heroes.”

This was Matson’s second Lifesaving Award — the only officer of the department to receive the award twice.

“I don’t feel like I did anything special,” Matson said. “It’s just one of those things that comes with our job. I think if a citizen was put in that position, they would have done the same thing.”

In addition to the Lifesaving Awards, two officers — Wes Wheatley and Samantha White — were also sworn in as the newest cops to join the force.

White completed the Law Enforcement Program at the College of Southern Idaho and has an associate’s degree in criminal justice. Wheatley was born and raised in Pocatello and comes to the department after spending the past eight years working for the Blackfoot Police Department.

Both said they are excited for the new opportunity, but White said she is a little nervous about putting her classroom knowledge to the test.

Marchand commended his officers and dismissed claims regarding the department’s low morale following a recent police union survey.

“If it weren’t for their quick thinking and action, I can say these people would not be with us today,” Marchand said. “Their efforts exemplify what it means to be a member of the Pocatello Police Department and law enforcement worldwide.”