Central California Women’s Facility employee helps save woman’s life

Health Program Specialist calmly, quickly renders aid to unconscious woman

A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employee put her training to lifesaving use when she assisted a stranger in distress on the side of the road who turned out to be a fellow corrections employee.

Health Specialist I April Wagnon helped a woman in need while on her way to work at CCWF in February.

Health Specialist I April Wagnon helped a woman in need while on her way to work at CCWF in February.

On Feb. 26, April Wagnon, a Health Program Specialist I and 24-year CDCR veteran, was on her way to work at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) when she saw someone standing in the middle of the road, waving his arms frantically at every car passing by and yelling for help. Wagnon slowed down and approached the man, who explained that his passenger was unconscious in the vehicle.

At the same time, Penny Guillory, a U.S. Postal Service employee, had also pulled over, and she began performing chest compressions on the woman while Wagnon called 911. She calmly informed the dispatcher of their location and that a woman was being given CPR because she was unresponsive and not breathing. Wagnon also calmed the driver, who was understandably distraught. Wagnon stopped him from walking around, fearing he would be struck by traffic.

Wagnon took over for Guillory and began performing chest compressions. CAL FIRE arrived along with paramedics, a Madera County fire crew and responders from the CCWF fire crew, including CCWF Captain Lynne Rodriguez. The CAL FIRE responder had a defibrillator, and he and Wagnon worked quickly to get the pads on the woman, at the same time continuing chest compressions until the defibrillator could be used.

Firefighters and paramedics took over the woman’s medical care while Wagnon walked the man to her car so he could sit with her while medical personnel did their job. It was then the man told Wagnon that the woman was also a CDCR employee, who worked at neighboring VSP.

A fire captain came over and told them the lady was breathing and would be transported to the hospital.

“The lady from the Post Office came up to me and asked if we were OK, I told her yes, and we hugged and said ‘good job’ to each other and she left – I didn’t get her name,” Wagnon said.

After reaching out to the U.S. Postal Service, it was discovered that Wagnon’s fellow Good Samaritan was Guillory, a City Carrier Assistant at the Merced Post Office.

Concerned about the driver being able to make it to the hospital safely, Wagnon elected to wait with him until he was calm enough to drive himself, and he left for the hospital while Wagnon continued on her way to work.

Rodriguez shared that the woman is alive in no small part due to the fast and calm response of Wagnon and Guillory.

“Without the quick action of Ms. Wagnon, the employee would have passed away at the scene,” she said. “Miss Wagnon is to be commended for her actions and compassion.”

Wagnon first reported to the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center in July 1990 as a cadet. After graduating the academy, she was part of the activation team at CCWF, which opened in 1990. During her time as a Correctional Officer, Wagnon was involved with CCWF’s Honor Guard and worked various assignments throughout the institution, including Transportation and Administrative Segregation/Security Housing Unit.

In 2006, she started work as a Health Program Specialist I. Her current duties include being a subject-matter expert in the Inmate Medical Services Program (ISMP), ISMP-related data applications, performance trends and local activities to ensure departmental compliance with all court orders, laws, rules, regulations, policies and procedures governing the medical program. She is part of the Quality Management Support Unit and has acted as the Standards Compliance Coordinator for the Skilled Nursing Facility. Wagnon has also been involved in the Peer Support Program and was an Equal Opportunity Employment counselor.

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22 Responses

  1. Background Sergeant Shannon Beaber and former CCWF Sgt. Thursday, March 26, 2015 / 5:35 am

    I have known April for almost 20 years, and had the privilege to work side by side with her while she was still in uniform. She is the kind of person who would give the shirt off her back for someone. She has always supported CDCR/CCWF for many years and this comes as no surprise she responded to this incident with no hesitation. I’m proud to call her my friend.

  2. Sarbjeet Kaur Wednesday, March 25, 2015 / 1:42 pm

    Thank you for stopping and taking the action and making a life-saving difference.
    Well done! We are glad you are a part of our team. Thank you so much for the awesome job.

  3. Lisa Sunday, March 22, 2015 / 7:33 pm

    What an amazing article about an even more amazing woman. April is the most selfless, intuitive person I know. Simply stated, she saw someone in distress and it became her objective to do whatever she could to save a complete stranger. How inspiring you are April!

  4. Lt. M. D. Williams, CCWF Friday, March 20, 2015 / 4:01 pm

    Another GREAT story at Central California Women’s Facility. We have so many great people working here. Good job.

  5. Karen Myers Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 7:02 pm

    As Ms Wagon shared with me, she will be forever changed from this experience. I wish to again congratulate her, and more than that, I would like to commend CDCR for the acknowledgment of a job well done!

  6. John Zimmerschied Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 12:22 pm

    Great job!

  7. Katherine Hudson Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 10:55 am

    April Wagnon is a kind, compassionate person who has excellent skills of observation and is unflappable in an emergency. She is a credit to the medical department at CCWF.

  8. Corryn Pierini Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 9:48 am

    I have had the pleasure of supervising Ms. Wagnon and working with her in the Quality Management Support Unit at CCWF. She has always been a by-the-book employee and has worked hard to ensure Health Care is in compliance with mandates. Excellent job, once again!

  9. N. Balestreri Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 9:42 am

    April Wagnon, you always go out of your way to help. You are outstanding!

  10. AW (A) R. Wozniak Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 9:05 am

    Great job, April!

  11. Sandy Schulte Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 8:55 am

    I have only known April since starting the Quality Management Support Unit at VSP, however, I would expect nothing less from her. Excellent job, April!

  12. Sgt. S. Jandro Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 8:42 am

    It is people like you who make a difference in this world. Outstanding!

  13. Vikki Sahagun-Mehas Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 8:31 am

    I have known April for quite a while and this just shows her true character. Thank God she was at the right place at the right time. Because of her actions that day, a family still has their loved one around. You go, girl!

  14. S. Shepherd Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 8:22 am

    I am not surprised in the least that Miss Wagnon acted quickly and calmly given the difficult situation. She was an outstanding partner as an Officer and continues to display the same attributes in her Medical Specialist position.
    Thank you for responding code 3 to a 10-67, job well done! It’s code 4, thanks to you.

  15. Karle Stoll Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 8:15 am

    We are so thankful you were in the right place at the right time to help our dear friend that day. Thank you from VSP. She is still with us because of you.

  16. Amy Taylor Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 8:10 am

    April,
    It is so great that you were there at the right time and you actually stopped! It must have felt so good helping the victim. That’s the kind of news we all like to read in the morning. Thank you.

  17. CCI D. Dew Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 8:07 am

    April,
    Thank you for not just driving by, but stopping and making a life-saving difference.
    I’m glad to know you are part of the Peer Support Team at CCWF.

  18. E. Opoku Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 7:51 am

    Awesome job. I am a CPR instructor at our institution and I always tell the staff who we train, “you will never know when you will need to use this skill, so take it serious.” I am happy to hear the person survived due to the quick thinking and action. You two ladies took. Stay blessed.

  19. Natalie Banuelos Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 7:49 am

    Makes me so proud to have been a part of the CCWF family!

  20. Sharman Fristo Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 7:44 am

    I always knew we were some of the good guys, and that is continually supported by the actions of CDCR employees in these stories published by OPEC.

  21. Linda Hagen Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 6:57 am

    Thank-you for the article about Ms. Wagnon. We in Education at VSP are so thankful to her for saving the life of our fellow teacher. Good job! Nice to know there are people who are willing to stop and help others in need.

    • G. Barr, R.N. Thursday, March 19, 2015 / 1:25 pm

      April,
      I have always respected your acute observations and your exceptional work ethic. You have been a great person to work with. This act shows how you respect life. You amaze me!

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