Two police officers from the University of Rhode Island received recognition on Monday for their work reviving a man involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Patrolman Officer Michael McCabe and Patrolman Officer Salvatore Bugge were presented with citations from the Rhode Island State House Senate Chamber. McCabe and Bugge were the first respondents who made the decision to perform CPR on Barry Blomstedt which saved his life on Dec. 5, 2015.
“We’re very proud of the officers that they were in the right place at the right time and they had the training experience to do the right thing at the right time,” said Stephen Baker, director of public safety for the university. “A lot of that has to do with the training of this police department and the supervision of this police department.”
Police Major Michael Jagoda presented the two officers with the citations from the Senate. Â “They went above and beyond the call of duty,” Jagoda said. “And I’m pretty proud to be their major and a part of this organization.”
Blomstedt, 64, of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, was also in attendance as the officers received their citations. Since the accident, Blomstedt had been recovering at home and wanted to take the opportunity to meet the officers for the first time.
“I truly thank them from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of my family, my wife, my son and myself [for] their actions and what they did,” Blomstedt said. “I am proud, grateful and there is 50 other adjectives I could throw in there but I am entirely indebted to these two gentleman on the job that they do on a day in and day out basis.”
Blomstedt said that he has no memories of the accident or of that day itself. What he does know are things that people have told him of the day. Blomstedt said the first thing he remembers is waking up the hospital and being a little confused. His wife explained to him that he had been in a car accident at URI after the basketball game.
“My first thought was, that’s right, the basketball game,” Blomstedt said. He added that he also wondered in those first moments, “Who won?”
On the night of the accident, Blomstedt’s car struck two light poles across the street before hitting the wall in front of URI Heath Services on Butterfield Road. His car came to rest on top of the stonewall where McCabe and Bugge found it.
“I was the first on scene,” McCabe said. “And I remember the car being surrounded by hundreds of people and the vehicle was on top of the stone wall with both airbags deployed.” McCabe also said that when he checked for a pulse and for breathing there was neither. The two officers then made the decision to remove Blomstedt from his car and began performing CPR.
“We had some people there who were making comments ‘don’t take him out of the car’ and such,” Bugge said. “But we know our level of training and I have full faith in officer McCabe so that’s why we got him out of the car immediately. It was the right decision and we knew it right away.” Bugge added that the car was completely totaled and was considered a significant accident.
“You really don’t even think about it,” McCabe said. “The training takes over and that’s just a reaction. You can’t take in the moment, you can’t take in all the people around you, it’s just a reaction through the training.”
Bugge said it is tough to think of himself as a hero, as many people have been calling him and McCabe, but he does realize the impact that he had on the lives of the family. “Whether you’re helping someone or whatever you’re doing, this [job] is very positive and it really helps you recharge your batteries to have such a good impact,” Bugge said.
“That’s why we’re here,” McCabe added. “That’s why we get the training that we do. It’s not all about arresting people and that kind of business, it’s these stories.”