The Medal of Valor is the Department’s highest award, earned by employees distinguishing themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service. The employee shall display great courage in the face of immediate life-threatening peril and with full knowledge of the risk involved. The act should show professional judgment and not jeopardize operations or the lives of others.
Alfred Gascon, Correctional Officer, Calipatria State Prison
Driving home from work, Officer Gascon saw dust arising from near a highway intersection.
When he reached the intersection, he came upon two severely damaged vehicles. Alfred stopped to help.
The wreck left the driver of the first vehicle trapped inside but alert and largely unhurt. He told Alfred he had already called 9-1-1.
The driver of the second vehicle was unconscious but breathing. However, witnesses said a passenger in the second vehicle was missing.
Alfred quickly canvassed the area. He couldn’t find any sign of the passenger. However, he noticed the water in a nearby canal was a different color in one area. He immediately went into the water and found the passenger.
The victim had severe head injuries and no pulse. Bystanders refused to help Alfred get the victim out of the water, but he still succeeded.
He began life-saving measures. After several minutes, the victim’s heart started beating again. Black smoke began pouring from under the hood of the first vehicle.
With the passenger now breathing, Alfred rushed to the first vehicle, broke the driver’s side window and helped him to safety. He then returned to the victims from the second vehicle and continued helping them until first responders arrived.