CAPITOL HEIGHTS – When Dah’mari Jenkins celebrated his eighth birthday last Thursday at a local fire station, those in attendance called it a miracle—because it almost never happened. Just six days prior, Dah’mari—seven at the time—suffered a stab wound from a scalpel while playing in the back of a car that severed his femoral artery, […]
CAPITOL HEIGHTS – When Dah’mari Jenkins celebrated his eighth birthday last Thursday at a local fire station, those in attendance called it a miracle—because it almost never happened.
Just six days prior, Dah’mari—seven at the time—suffered a stab wound from a scalpel while playing in the back of a car that severed his femoral artery, which fire medics said resulted in an almost total bleed-out. However, first responders managed to save the boy’s life and on Thursday, the department threw him a birthday party.
“Typically when we line up in front of some cameras and microphones and have this crowd gathered it’s for a pretty sad occasion,”?said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County?Fire Department. “Fortunately, today is just the opposite.”
Brady said a “good Samaritan” noticed the child and immediately called 911. Two Seat Pleasant police officers responded first to the scene and began applying first aid.
“Once we got there I was flagged down by the citizens at the vehicle where the victim was,” said Sgt. Aaron Forster. “I looked in and saw him laying there on the floorboard of the vehicle. I saw a tremendous amount of blood. Once I saw that I jumped in and applied pressure to the wound. I grabbed the radio with my other hand and I asked fireboard to step it up given the severity of his injury. He kept fading so I tried to kind of get him to stay alert. I talked to him basically.”
Officer Joan Powell said she was shocked by the scene because children are helpless.
“You’re never prepared to see kids in that kind of state,” she said.
Moments after Forster and Powell arrived, Brady said, firefighter medics from Capitol Heights Fire/EMS Station 805 responded to the scene and put Dah’mari, who was unconscious and suffering hemorrhagic shock, on an ambulance where they applied pressure and IVs and administered oxygen.
With the police officers leading the way, first responders got Dah’mari to Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. in only 22 minutes. There, Dah’mari underwent successful surgery.
Paramedic Lt. Rob Kight, who administered the oxygen on the ambulance, checked in with the hospital periodically to check on Dah’mari’s condition. Upon hearing that the hospital had discharged Dah’mari on Sunday, Kight also learned the youngster would turn eight years old on May 7. Kight then began working to arrange a birthday party so Dah’mari could celebrate with those who helped save his life.
At the party, the first responders showered Dah’mari with gifts, balloons and even provided a cake. Dah’mari, still walking with a noticeable limp, shook hands with each person. Though he said he does not remember anything, he said he is thankful for what they did and for celebrating his birthday with him. As for his leg, he said it “feels good.”
“I’m just walking funny,” he said.
Powell said she was happy to see Dah’mari moving around and feels proud she helped play a role in helping save his life. Forster said the birthday party made him a bit teary-eyed.
“Just thinking about a child—it just touches your heart,” Forster said.
Seat Pleasant Police Chief Christopher Cotillo said his agency may be small, but his officers care about the community. They went beyond the call of duty, he said, in this case.
“I think about when they respond to this scene and there is seven-year-old kid bleeding to death right in front of their eyes—they are not fire or EMS. They do not have the equipment to treat the child, but they knew they had to do something,” Cotillo said. “They didn’t freeze and they didn’t panic. They immediately provided first aid to try and control the bleeding. They got on the radio and asked the fire board to step it up. And the fire board did step up. They were there within minutes. Once they get there it is no longer a police scene, it is a fire department scene. My officers could have easily stepped back and said, ‘We are done.’ But they didn’t. They stayed and comforted the family.”
While people across the country may think police officers do not care about those they serve, Cotillo said, he believes Dah’mari would not be celebrating his birthday without the help of the officers who responded to the scene.
“We do it because we care and every life matters to us,” Cotillo said.