Weld deputies save man from apparent overdose, captured on new body cameras

By CUYLER MEADE | cmeade@greeleytribune.com | Greeley Tribune

The quick actions of a pair of Weld County sheriff’s deputies likely saved a man’s life last week, as the efforts were captured on new department-issued body cameras.

The man, who is unidentified in a release from the WCSO, was suffering from an apparent drug overdose Tuesday evening, Aug. 11, when deputies Peter Steeves and Allison Engelhart responded to the rural Weld County home southeast of Greeley following a 911 call from the address.

Found unconscious and not breathing when the deputies arrived just before 8 p.m., the man remained unresponsive as Engelhart tried to rouse him with gentle physical prodding on the chest and repeated calls to wake up.

All the action was captured on a body camera video in Steeves’ uniform, who reported “small pinpoint pupils” on the man, who can be seen lying face-up on his back on a bed in the home. The man was also snorting, which the release indicates is another sign of respiratory distress due to drug overdose.

Steeves can be seen on the video quickly pulling a small canister of naxolone, also known as Narcan Nasal Spray, out of an ankle holster, applying a pair of sanitary gloves and administering a dose of the Narcan to the man via the nostrils. Steeves then rolled the man onto his side and radioed to dispatch that it was safe for fire and medical to enter the scene while reporting the dosage he’d administered.

Steeves, who said he’s been on patrol for a couple or three years with the WCSO, is also an EMT, he said. That helped the situation, he said. But he was also grateful for the training he gets as a sheriff’s deputy.

“We get lots of beneficial tie-in work with medics and fire and paramedics,” Steeves said. “More often than not, if we go to something that’s a medical emergency as the main thrust, they’re with us. In this case, we were just making sure it was safe for them to come in, but more often than not they’re the ones handling life-saving procedures.”

This time, though, there was no time to waste.

“This is something we cover in our training on the regular,” Steeves said. “So it’s kind of by the numbers. Our office does a really good job of preparing people. I knew there was a medical emergency and someone was unconscious, and fortunately we could recognize from some call history at that residence that there might be a drug issue. I had an inkling that was the case, and when the family ushered me into the back room, immediately they helped me confirm that was the case. We let medical know it’s safe to come in, but no reason to wait. We can help him right away. That’s our training.”

The short video released by the WCSO doesn’t extend to the point the man regained consciousness, but the release indicates he did shortly thereafter before being taken by ambulance to the hospital.

“The life-saving actions taken by Steeves and Engelehart were the first captured on a body camera issued by the Weld County Sheriff’s Office,” the release reads. “The sheriff’s office completed last Monday the rollout of its bodycam program, equipping 80 deputies with the technology. All patrol deputies with a rank of sergeant and below have been issued a bodycam.”

Steeves said it took a few days to realize what he had done.

“In the moment, the other deputy and I talked about it, recognized that had gone well,” he said. “And we were able to make a difference in a family’s life. I’d say to (the victim/patient) the most important moment was when we first got there, but for the family, it was talking about next steps, getting them resources. That’s really only available because the resources are in this county. But then a couple days ago someone was congratulating me for having saved someone and it took me a minute to realize what he meant. That’s kind of what we do.

“I think it’s great to be in a community and an agency that takes lifesaving as kind of par for the course. That’s what we do. I love that about the people I work with.”

The release notes that the office’s contract with a bodycam manufacturer, BodyWorn by Utility Inc., is five years, $459,000.

Further details about the bodycam program are included in the release:

  • Automated activation through CAD: The BodyWorn camera will begin recording when a deputy is assigned to a call.

  • Smart holster sensor: The camera will begin recording when a deputy draws their weapon.

  • BodyWorn down: The camera will begin recording and send an alert to other officers should a deputy become prone in the field.

  • Vehicle sensors: The camera will begin recording whenever a deputy activates their emergency lights.

  • Built-in accelerometer: The camera will begin recording when a deputy becomes involved in a vehicle or foot pursuit.

  • Action zones: The camera will begin recording when a deputy is within a quarter mile of the location of an assigned call.

SOURCES: Greenly Tribune & CBS Denver