Chief lauds rescue trio

Firefighters saved stabbing victim

City Fire Chief Tim Hileman on Wednesday pinned commendation medals on three firefighters who worked together to stop a man who’d been stabbed in the neck seconds earlier from bleeding to death this summer.

Capt. Cameron Sunderland, engineer Brian Caldwell and firefighter Marshall Johnson were returning to the department’s main station from an afternoon call when they were flagged down by people on nearby 13th Avenue, at which point they saw the victim fall to the ground, “with an obvious laceration to his left side carotid artery,” according to a citation letter Hileman read to City Council, as the three firefighters in dress blue uniforms stood side-by-side in front of him.

Caldwell and Johnson put on medical gloves, Caldwell applied pressure to the victim’s neck, Johnson “kept a steady supply of medical pads and gauze coming his way,” and Sunderland radioed the 911 Center for AMED and Altoona police, according to the citation letter, quoting Sunderland’s report on the Aug. 20 incident.

Though “the man was losing a massive amount of blood from his neck, nose and mouth … Caldwell was able to slow the amount lost from the carotid with nonstop direct pressure,” Sunderland’s report stated.

Meanwhile, Sunderland was asking people who’d gathered where the perpetrator went, the report stated.

The other firefighters continued to take care of the victim, “without hesitation, not knowing if the suspect was in the crowd,” Sunderland stated in his report.

Comments from trauma surgeons at UPMC Altoona confirmed “your life-saving actions,” Hileman stated in his commendation letter.

None of the three wanted the Life-Saving Medals, Hileman said.

But the trio went “way above the call of duty,” the chief stated. “Wear that badge proudly, because you earned it.”

The victim has fully recovered, Hileman said.

Hileman also credited Altoona police for quick action in apprehending the alleged perpetrator.

Police arrested Shawn P. Barnes, 42, that evening at his house on the 1800 block of 14th Avenue, with the help of tips from people in the neighborhood and images from security cameras.

They found a bloody 4-inch knife in his house.

Allegedly, Barnes was walking by the victim and a woman who was with the victim when Barnes reached out suddenly and slashed at the victim’s neck, for no clear reason, according to earlier reports.

Barnes is currently in Blair County Prison on $500,000 cash bail on charges of attempted homicide and other counts, according to Police Chief Janice Freehling and earlier reports.

Online court documents indicate competency hearings are scheduled for early January.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.


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