Russ Wehnau, animal control officer for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, was off duty when he heard the call. A man was injured and bleeding profusely from his leg.
Within minutes, he was at the scene in Carrizozo and applied a bandage and tourniquet, an action later credited with saving the life of Neil McCombs.
Sheriff Robert Shepperd recognized Wehnau on Tuesday during the Lincoln County Commission meeting in Carrizozo.
“When we go into the profession we have chosen, we see the worst of the worst in people,” the Sheriff said. “When we can make a difference in someone’s life, it makes up for all the rhetoric we hear. It makes it worthwhile.”
Shepperd said the call was received from dispatch at 3 p.m. July, 14, asking for county emergency medical services to respond to an address in Carrizozo and a horse-related accident.
“My off-duty animal control officer, who has a radio in his vehicle, had heard the call and responded even though he was off duty,” Shepperd said. “With his quick action, with the stuff he carried that we provide and he provides, he saved a life.
“The individual had severed the femoral artery in his leg. My officer Russ Wehnau packed his leg with a quick-clot bandage and applied a tourniquet.”
McComb was transported by ambulance to Lincoln County Medical Center and then flown to a trauma center.
“The emergency room staff and paramedic relayed back and said without this lifesaving action, the person certainly would have died, would have bled out at the scene,” Shepperd said.
“His actions were not because he was being paid to do it, it was because the career he chose is to help people and save lives.”
Wehnau received a plaque, a notation in his permanent personnel record and a pin to wear on his uniform acknowledging his actions.
The plaque noted that Wehnau acted without hesitation, reflecting his service toward citizens, his training and his courage under stress in saving a life.
Shepperd said Wehnau fulfills several roles in the department. In addition to animal control, he is the civil process server and backup dispatch officer.