PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland police officers Justin Raphael and Tyler Wyatt are used to walking into the unknown. But on the night of March 8, just one thing was clear to them.
“All we knew for certain was somebody had been shot,” said Raphael, a 10-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). “It was clear that he was in grave condition. He was going in and out of consciousness.”
The two officers were responding to calls of gunfire on Southeast 92nd Avenue near Powell Boulevard. When they arrived, about a dozen people yelled for help and motioned them over to the victim. According to police, he was lying outside an apartment doorway with a gun on the ground nearby.
“So we don’t know at this point if the shooter is still there,” said Wyatt, who’s been with the police bureau for about four years.
“We had to make a decision to sacrifice our own safety in those moments and go into this scene to begin to save a life,” said Raphael.
Both officers drew on their police bureau medical training. They carry Individual First Aid Kits known as IFAKs. Officer Wyatt reached for the hemostatic gauze designed to stop the bleeding and packed it into the victim’s wound. Officer Raphael applied a tourniquet.
“At one point, he just asked if I’d hold his hand, which was a pretty intense moment,” said Raphael. “I did and I just told him, ‘Hey, keep squeezing my hand. Stay with me.'”
Raphael said he held the man’s hand even as medics loaded him into an ambulance minutes later; precious minutes that the officers’ first aid had bought them.
“I think that gets lost on a lot of people. That sometimes as officers, we’re the first component of that emergency aid,” said Wyatt.
According to police, 388 people in Portland were injured by gunfire in 2021. Of those victims, 90 of them died. In 2022, 66 people have already been hurt by gun violence, including the man whom Raphael and Wyatt helped save. They haven’t heard from the victim since the shooting, but Raphael had a message for him.
“I’m glad you’re still with us,” said Raphael. “I would do it again. I’m happy you’re here.”
Police have not made any arrests in this case. Anyone with information that could help in the investigation is asked to call the PPB’s non-emergency line at (503)823-3333.