The Bronze Star is awarded for saving a life without placing oneself in peril. The employee shall have used proper training and tactics in a professional manner to save, or clearly contribute to saving, the life of another person.
Correctional Officer Cody Greer, California Medical Facility
While Officer Greer and some friends were fishing for halibut in the San Francisco Bay, they witnessed a boat capsize in the distance. Immediately, Officer Greer started his boat and drove to the capsized vessel.
On their way to render assistance, a charter boat in the area also saw the incident and called the United States Coast Guard with their radio. When Officer Greer arrived at the incident, he saw three men holding onto their capsized boat.
Officer Greer and his friends were able to save all three and get them safely aboard the Coast Guard vessel.
Correctional Counselor I Jennifer Howard-Hammer, California State Prison, Sacramento
Counselor Howard and a friend were having breakfast in Roseville when a patron at a nearby table with his family started choking and was unable to breathe.
Seeing the gentleman in obvious distress, Counselor Howard immediately responded. She asked if he was able to breathe and the choking patron motioned he could not.
After considering her options, she saw that he was beginning to turn blue and the situation was becoming dire. Without hesitation she relied on her CPR training and began to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
On the last thrust, the gentleman expelled the object obstructing his airway. It took him several minutes to regain his composure but he and his family quickly realized that Counselor Howard had just saved his life.
Correctional Sergeant Ricardo Urrea, Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center, Galt
During off duty hours, Sergeant Urrea and his son responded to an incident involving a bicyclist and a vehicle.
Sgt. Urrea, who is a CPR instructor, and his son performed CPR on the seriously injured bicyclist. Another man responded to the scene and began assisting with the CPR efforts and later identified himself as Sgt. Michael Gagliolo from California Health Care Facility.
Witnesses shared on social media that the injured man initially did not have a pulse but did eventually begin breathing on his own and was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
Sgt. Urrea and his son cared for the injured man’s dog until it could be relinquished to the man’s family.
While the injured man did eventually succumb to his injuries, Sgt. Urrea, his son, and Sgt. Gagliolo’s, life-saving attempts prolonged the man’s life long enough for the family to say goodbye and for his organs to be harvested and donated, potentially saving other lives.
Correctional Officer Kimberly Silva, Statewide Transportation Central Unit
On Nov. 9, 2020, Officer Silva and Correctional Officer Tony Reyna were traveling from North Kern State Prison to California State Prison, Los Angeles County, in Lancaster on Highway 43 when they were the first to arrive at the scene of a two-car accident.
They could see smoke coming from a car in a ditch and a van was flipped on its passenger side partially blocking the southbound lane of the highway.
Officer Silva rushed to the vehicles in the ditch to render aid. Officer Reyna called 911 to report the accident and stood next to the van to slow traffic.
Officer Silva asked the female driver in the car if anyone else was in the car and the she responded, “my baby, my baby.” Officer Silva frantically searched the car and found an unconscious 10-day-old infant pinned between her car seat and the passenger seat.
Officer Silva freed the baby from the car and used her knuckle to rub the baby’s sternum to get the baby to gain consciousness until the baby began crying.
Officer Silva was told that the baby most likely would not have made it if she did not react as fast as she did.
Correctional Officer William Mayfield, Valley State Prison
Correctional Officer Mayfield and Correctional Officer Giovanni Gomez were returning from a medical transport on Highway 180 and Freeway 41 when they witnessed a vehicle in the number one lane of Highway 180 veer off the shoulder, roll four to six times, and landed upside down.
Officer Mayfield exited their vehicle and proceeded across the freeway to assess the situation. Upon arriving at the vehicle, Officer Mayfield assisted the bleeding female driver out of the vehicle and to safety.
Officer Mayfield returned to the overturned vehicle and immediately observed that there was a baby hanging upside down in the backseat of the vehicle in a car seat. Officer Mayfield noticed the baby was initially crying, but while removing the baby from the back seat, the baby stopped crying and appeared to have a blue tint to its skin.
Officer Mayfield proceeded to remove the car seat, keeping the baby strapped in, and started rubbing the baby’s face and chest until the baby took a deep breath and started crying again.
Joseph Jasso, Correctional Food Manager, Central California Women’s Facility
While at home on April 19, 2020, Mr. Jasso heard gunshots outside and saw a young man down on the ground with apparent gunshot wounds. Mr. Jasso and his neighbor assessed the scene and responded to assist the young man.
He and his neighbor were able to help the man into the neighbor’s home and applied direct pressure to the wounds until police and paramedics arrived to take over the scene.
Jim Liptrap, now retired superintendent, Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp
On July 29, 2020, Superintendent Liptrap, was relaxing at home after a day of overseeing the operations of the youth fire camp in the Amador County foothills during the height of a historically difficult fire season.
He heard what sounded like sounds of distress coming from a neighbor’s home and walked down to investigate. One of his neighbors was on the ground, unconscious.
Using his training, he assessed the situation and began performing CPR until emergency personnel could make their way to the residence and transport the unconscious patient to the hospital.
Unfortunately, despite all of the best efforts of Superintendent Liptrap, emergency responders, and hospital staff, the man eventually passed away.
Paul Ford, Parole Agent I, Division of Adult Parole Operations
What seemed like an ordinary mid-October afternoon in Stockton took a dramatic skid when Parole Agent I Paul Ford came upon a two-car collision on B Street. He was suddenly the first responder on a dangerous scene that could turn tragically explosive.
The first victim he saw was a middle-aged woman who seemed to be suffering from abdominal pain. She was alert and had no visible injuries.
Agent Ford hurried to the other car, while calling 911 to request police, fire and emergency medical services. He spotted a young man who seemed to be fading in and out of consciousness. The victim could not get out of his car.
He attempted to pull the young man to safety immediately, but the displaced dashboard held a grip on the victim.
With the help of another courageous Good Samaritan, they pulled away the dashboard only to find the victim injured at the hips and bleeding from his legs and head.
Agent Ford carefully placed the injured man on his own back and carried him away from the leaking fuel and a potential explosion. Just then, Stockton firefighters and the California Highway Patrol arrived and extinguished the immediate fire danger.
Correctional Officers Dustin Morrison and Elias Rodriguez
Registered Nurse Michelle McKee
California Correctional Center
On Dec. 12, 2020, a High Desert State Prison staff member was traveling on Center Road in Susanville on their way to work when they hit black ice causing the vehicle to slide sideways and skidding off the roadway.
The front of the vehicle dropped into a ditch causing it to roll several times. The staff member was ejected from the vehicle and was located approximately 50 feet from where the vehicle came to rest.
Staff members from High Desert and California Correctional Center including Correctional Officers Morrison and Rodriguez, along with Registered Nurse McKee, stopped to assist the driver and render aid.
Due to the diligent effort of all staff involved to begin the lifesaving aid needed, the staff member survived this life-threatening accident to be rejoined with his family and loved ones.
Correctional Sergeants Steve Oschner and Stephen Harkness, California Correctional Center
In August 2020, the Complex fire in Tehama County began to threaten the Salt Creek Conservation Camp. All inmates were evacuated from Salt Creek Camp as well as the staff, with the exception of Sgt. Harkness, Sgt. Oschner and a small crew of CAL Fire staff.
As the day went on and the fire approached the camp, it became apparent that the threat of the fire impacting the camp was imminent and that defensive operations would need to be performed if the camp was to be saved.
A group of firefighters arrived to assist and just before operations began, numerous CAL Fire Staff were required to leave in a last minute effort to save the town of Paskenta as it was also in imminent danger.
Sgt. Harkness and Sgt. Oschner jumped in and assisted in the fire response operation to fill the void in the lack of personnel. After 36 hours of grueling work, Salt Creek Camp was saved.