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Clallam Bay Swiftly Responds to Medical Emergency

February 7, 2024

By Brendan Baptiste Communications Office
CO Matthew Cartmill, Lara Bryant, RN, and Dr. Kasey Gregory, FMD

Corrections Officer Matthew Cartmill, Lara Bryant, RN, and Dr. Kasey Gregory, FMD were part of the team who provided care to an incarcerated individual who was experiencing a serious medical issue. (Photo courtesy of Jesse Pearson, Public Information Officer at Clallam Bay Corrections Center)

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On a frigid winter morning at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center on January 14, 2024, a routine day took a dramatic turn when an incarcerated individual had a life-threatening medical emergency. The prison staff, trained to handle life-or-death situations, sprang into action. Their swift response to the situation highlighted their commitment to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of those in their care and custody.

At approximately 7:00 a.m., Correctional Officer Shannon Gentry made a radio notification of a medical emergency for an incarcerated individual who was experiencing severe chest pains. The on-site medical team under the lead of Dr. Kasey Gregory immediately responded. Four nurses, Julia Keegan, RN2, Tara Wilson, LPN, Lara Bryant, RN, and Sonya George, RN quickly began treatment by providing an IV, issuing medication, and making calls to a local hospital for assistance.

The Pacific Northwest had recently been battered with winter weather that brought snow and ice across the region. In perfect weather conditions an ambulance ride to the closest medical facility in Forks, WA, would take about 45 minutes. In these conditions, it would undoubtedly take much longer.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, prison staff continued their testing and conducted an electrocardiogram (EKG), which had revealed abnormal results indicative of a heart attack. This quick diagnosis was crucial, as heart attacks require immediate medical attention to prevent serious complications or death.

“Dealing with severe medical issues is not normal activity for a corrections center so far removed from cities with larger medical facilities. Those who require more advanced care are generally moved to other facilities that can better accommodate their needs,” says Dr. Gregory, FMD. “This situation was different however, as the individual has been a long-time resident at Clallam Bay.”

The staff’s ability to perform the necessary testing within the correctional facility underscored the center’s preparedness for emergency medical situations.

After confirming the heart attack, staff treated the patient until Clallam Bay Ambulance arrived. The emergency medical technicians (EMTs) worked in tandem with prison staff, assessing the patient’s condition and providing necessary care. The seamless collaboration between the internal and external medical teams exemplified a well-orchestrated emergency response system, crucial in life-threatening situations.

The EMTs, determined the incarcerated individual’s condition warranted more specialized care than could be provided at the local hospital. They needed to life-flight the individual to St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale. Arranging a life flight from a correctional facility presented unique challenges, including security concerns. Ultimately, Corrections Officer Tyler Bolewicki provided the required security on the helicopter, while Corrections Officer Matthew Cartmill followed in a vehicle, ensuring that the patients transfer happened smoothly.

“I feel our team handled the situation well,” says Tyler Bolewicki. “The emergency felt both orchestrated and chaotic at times, but Corrections Officers Brian Porter and Matthew Cartmill gave me the guidance to ensure I could handle the transfer safely. I really appreciate their leadership.”

This medical emergency at Clallam Bay Corrections Center not only demonstrated their staff’s dedication to the health and safety of incarcerated individuals but also highlights the importance of having well equipped and trained medical personnel at correctional institutions. The successful handling of this medical emergency serves as a testament to the commitment of medical staff to provide care and safeguard the lives of all under their supervision, regardless of their status.