In August, staff members from Chuckawalla Valley and Ironwood state prisons heading to work responded to a life threatening emergency involving a vehicle roll-over on the Interstate 10 freeway.
Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP) Correctional Officer David Matthews, Correctional Officer Andre Templer, Sergeant (Sgt.) Paul Ayala, Sgt Melecio Madrid, Lieutenant Courtney Horne, and Registered Nurse (RN) Mara Winsick were en route to work for third watch and assisted at an accident scene.

As their vehicle approached, Officer Matthews observed a Chevrolet SUV, transporting a family of four had rolled over several times after suffering a blown tire.

Upon arriving on the scene, the correctional staff went into action immediately. Staff saw one of the passengers, a 16-year-old male, trapped underneath the vehicle after apparently being ejected while the vehicle was rolling. The other three passengers were seat belted in their seats and remained inside the vehicle.
Sgt. Madrid approached the driver of the vehicle and noticed she was in shock and unresponsive. Ironwood State Prison (ISP) employees Sgt Francisco Aguilar, Correctional Officers Veronica Aguilar, Scott Bowen, and G. H. Conley arrived simultaneously and assisted in removing everyone from inside the vehicle. Once the passengers were removed, Sgt. Madrid and ISP staff provided medical care to the three passengers.
“I am very proud of all the CVSP and ISP staff members and the fire fighters involved,” said J. Tim Ochoa, Warden (A), Chuckawalla State Prison. “The quick response and life saving techniques utilized is a reflection to their professional demeanor and training that is instilled by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.”
Upon removal of the three passengers, all correctional staff made several attempts to tip the vehicle on its side to free the passenger trapped underneath; however, the vehicle was too heavy. They summoned more help from civilians on the scene, making it possible to tip the vehicle and remove the trapped passenger. Sgt Ayala immediately started life saving techniques to stabilize the passenger until the emergency life flight medical personnel arrived.
RN Winsick arrived shortly after and assisted with medical attention to all who were injured. CVSP’s Fire Department was the first emergency vehicle on scene.
Fire Captain Kenneth Lynch took control of the situation and directed the inmate fire fighters to bring back boards and first aid equipment needed to care for the injured. CVSP’s Fire Captain and the inmate fire fighters monitored all vital signs, bandaged minor lacerations and prepared the critical injured for air transport.

This harrowing narrative is a reminder that now is the time to consider nominating those for the annual Medal of Valor award. The Medal of Valor for 2011 will include all heroic acts performed by CDCR staff within the calendar year of 2010.

CDCR Office of Public and Employee Communications will begin processing nominations for the Medal of Valor in January 2011. Further instructions and nomination forms will be provided within the coming months.