On Thanksgiving Day, a gunman entered a St. Paul gas station looking to fleece the cash register. But the robbery went awry, and instead he shot the clerk in the neck.
As the man lay bleeding, convinced he was going to die, responding police officer Alexander Graham applied pressure to the wound and did his best to calm the victim.
Graham held the clerk’s hand, coached him on how to breathe and assured him that he was going to make it.
By the time medics arrived, Graham had already radioed for officers to set up a perimeter around the crime scene and instructed another worker to pull surveillance video to help identify the suspect.
Hospital staff later said Graham’s heroic actions probably saved the clerk’s life.
His boss agreed. Chief Todd Axtell presented Graham with two lifesaving awards on Wednesday for providing critical medical treatment to two separate gunshot victims in the space of three months.
“Officer Graham arrived at two intense scenes, remained calm, acted quickly and demonstrated great compassion,” Axtell said. “His work at both scenes truly demonstrates trusted service with respect. But more importantly, it resulted in two lives being saved.”
On Feb. 5, Graham responded to an assault call that left a man shot in the leg. He was bleeding so profusely that Graham feared the bullet had struck his femoral artery. Acting quickly, Graham directed bystanders to apply direct pressure to the wound and hold the victim’s neck steady to protect his airway. Then he assessed the victim for further injuries so he could update paramedics when they arrived.
Again, the man in his care survived.
Graham, who joined the force in 2016, serves as a patrol officer in the city’s western district.
“I feel extremely lucky to be receiving these awards,” he said. “I don’t feel like I did anything special. All of my fellow officers would have done the same thing. This is not a job any of us take lightly.”