By his own admission, Gosnells Sergeant Paul Burke has seen a lot of horrific things in his 28 years on the police force.
So, when he describes an incident that saw his team honoured with a WA Bravery Award last Friday as “very, very nasty”, it speaks to the gravity of the situation and the effort required for his team to save the life of a man they fully intended to arrest.
The Sergeant, along with fellow officers Constable Jessica Smith, First Class Constable Steven Millar, First Class Constable Nikita Bergant, Constable Eddie McMenamin and Constable Harry Beecher, attended a report of a break-and-enter in Kenwick on December 4.
Sgt Burke said what he encountered when he arrived at the scene was a shock.
“One of my crews attended initially and found that a man had smashed a back window and had cut his arm…quite deeply is an understatement,” he said.
“It was down to the bone and he was losing quite a lot of blood.
“The attending officers were trying to get a reaction out of him and I noticed he’d stopped breathing. “
To make matters worse, the closest ambulance was 25 minutes away, and officers also had to deal with a family in shock.
“We rotated through turns on CPR while I had other officers coordinating the arrival of the ambulance and clearing the backyard so the ambulance had clear access to where we were.
“I’ve been doing this job for 28 years and I’ve seen some pretty horrific things.
“This was pretty nasty, there was a lot of blood around and the injury to the man’s arm was about three inches wide and about two inches deep.”
“We had to remove the bandage when the ambulance came and I remember when I was doing CPR on him I could actually see blood coming of the veins in the mid-arm so it was very, very nasty, just a lot of blood everywhere.”
The thought that the man was a person they would usually be slapping handcuffs on, never entered their mind.
“We had to keep him alive.
“It was our job to keep this guy alive, the fact that he’d committed an offence was secondary to just keeping him alive, we had to do everything in our power to bring him back.”
The team from Gosnells was successful in that mission, and for their dedication were honoured with a WA Bravery Award last week.
For Sgt Burke, the nomination was surprising but recognition of a job well done.
“It’s nice to be recognised, the award was certainly a surprise, just to be nominated and I’m proud of the team.
“It’s a testament to the sort of people we’ve got working here, they all just jumped in and we’ve got people in their 20s and people who have been around a lot longer and they all got stuck in, it was great to see.”