SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Even when they’re off duty, first responders are never really not on the job.
“I started coming up the Thunderbolt Bridge and I see someone walking. People walk along that bridge all the time, but something just seemed different about this person.”
So, Savannah Emergency Services paramedic Mindy Cauley - returning home from an overtime shift - turned around, assessed the situation out and talked a man out of jumping from the bridge on the night of Sept. 25.
“My initial reaction was literally, thank God Mindy was there. If anybody on Earth needed to be there, it was her.”
“He was sitting, and he looked at me and just leaned over. I kind of reached up under his arm and said do not do that. Let us not do that tonight.”
“It takes a really important person to bring them back from a permanent decision.”
“I said, ‘honey, I was not supposed to be coming over this bridge at this time. I am your sign not to do this.’”
Officer Raymond Purnell of the Savannah Police Department was working on Oct. 23 when he chased a shoplifting subject across traffic and to a Southside gas station, where the man attempted to light a gas pump on fire.
“He had the nozzle in his hand, and he was trying to ignite it for a third time, and that’s when I ran up to him and got the nozzle out of his hand and detained him on the ground.”
“We saw what happened at Bull Street when that gas station caught on fire, so we know how dangerous these situations can be.”
“It could have been bad. There were a lot of people around.”
And the most impressive of those first responders are honored every year by the 200 Club, which will present Cauley and Purnell with its 2021 Valor Awards at a banquet on April 15.
“Here are two people who stepped up, did the right thing and did a great job and we are proud of them and proud to honor them.”
And while they are grateful for the award, both first responders are more in tune with the acts that earned it for them.
“I’m honored, honestly. But again, it’s my job.”
“I like to help people. I like to know I can make a difference to people and that’s why I got into this field.”