Gowanda Officer Credited With Saving Teen After Stabbing

Gowanda officer Randall and officer-in-Charge Dennis Feldmann stand together outside the station. Randall saved a 14-year-old girl after she was stabbed on Chestnut Street in Gowanda on March 7. Photo by Andrew D. Kuczkowski

GOWANDA — Ninety seconds.

That’s how fast Gowanda Police Department’s Officer Randall responded to a stabbing on Chestnut Street on March 7 at 8:06 p.m. and begin to treat the victim. The sight he saw, Randall said, had a snow bank covered in blood and where the knife penetrated her neck.

“With my medical background, as soon as I pulled off of Jamestown Street on to Chestnut, the entire snowbank was red, saturated red,” Randall said, “and I can see the hole in her neck. I knew immediately from the location, I was like, ‘No, just no.’ I ended up getting out of the car so fast and heading up there that I didn’t put gloves on.”

As he applied pressure, he noticed the blood was adamant.

“Definitely a major artery or vein,” he said.

Officer Randall has experience as a combat medic in the Army. Being a police officer, Randall admitted, signs him up for a different job. It was not a typical 9 to 5, not to live luxurious and not for the faint of mind.

Yet, with that prepared mindset, seeing a teenager on her last limb of life was much more intense than usual.

“(I saw) shootings and stabbings and bad trauma incidents before, but this specific incident was,” Randall said, pausing. He continued with a slightly different tone, saying, “It was different. (It was) nothing like I rolled up on before. It wasn’t anything I thought of or did, God took over. As soon as I pulled up and saw her, it wasn’t on me.”

Randall stated that on Chestnut Street, the young victim’s pulse was still strong and going. On the way to the hospital, the teenager’s blood flow was beginning to decrease.

However, the girl made it to Lake Shore Hospital.

From there, Randall said he had to go onto his next job for the force. He had to put what he saw and was feeling behind him. After he left, the hospital, with a police escort, transferred the victim to Women and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo.

Hours later, Gowanda police’s officer-in-charge Dennis Feldmann received the call finding that the girl, who was bleeding out on Chestnut, was in stable condition. Feldmann immediately called Randall.

“Just a massive sense of relief,” Randall said about the call.

The news of a Gowanda police officer saving a teenager’s life spread fast in the village of Gowanda. The school district, to warn and inform the public, gave a statement to parents, Gowanda police updated the media about the incident and many contacted Randall to congratulate his heroic efforts.

“I’ve never got so many phone calls and text messages almost immediate (after),” he said. “One of my buddies I used to work at Rural Metro (an emergency medical services company in the Buffalo area) with was actually the nurse in the ICU … with the girl (who was hurt). He called me, ‘Oh, I heard you saved this girl’s life. I am standing next to her now.'”

At the Gowanda Village Board meeting on March 13, Village Mayor David Smith did not want Randall’s speedy and effective response to go unrecognized. Mayor Smith stated that on the April 10 meeting, the victim and her family will have a reunion with officer as well as an official honoring of Randall.

“For those who do not know, the Gowanda police were there in an estimated 90 seconds. That’s 90 seconds from the time the first knife wound happened, 90 seconds later, officer Randall — who stands in the doorway tonight — arrived on the scene,” Smith said. “Based on his training, he applied immediate pressure to the gravest wound in the throat area. By the estimation of the medical professionals that got back to me, not only as the mayor but as a school administrator … Randall saved the life of that victim on March 7.”

The crowd of around 25 at the board meeting gave a standing ovation knowing that he helped a 14-year-old girl make it to 15 and beyond.

Randall was given the floor to speak, but he wasn’t one to prefer the stardom. He stressed that he did his job and that his fellow officers would have done the same.

Feldmann, knowing the background and past experiences that Randall attained, was going to give Randall the appreciation he deserved for his admirable actions that go beyond the traditional patrolman.

“I beg to differ with officer Randall,” Feldmann said after Randall spoke. “One of the reasons he was brought here was he was a combat medic in the Army and he did go beyond what our basic training is. That’s why we are reporting all of our officers to go get the (emergency) training.”

Randall and Feldmann both added that the response from the New York State Police and Erie County Sheriff’s Office helped set up the crime scene and gather evidence.

The family of the 14-year-old girl has a Gofundme set up to assist with travel expenses, hospital stays, food, therapy and possibly counseling, the account says. The fund has already surpassed its goal of $1,500. If interested to donate, go to bit.ly/2ph1Akm.

Officer Randall saved a life. The notoriety that comes along with it was never the intention.

“I’ve never been one for (getting) the attention on me,” Randall said. “I kind of like just keeping my head down and doing my job. If you take a job as a police officer, as an EMT, you’re not just signing up for the paycheck or driving around with the lights and sirens, I honestly believe any officer — if they would have pulled up first — would have done the same thing. That’s what we sign up for: protecting and serving. You’re going to do whatever you have to do to try and encourage the best outcome you can.”

Randall did the most he can, with God’s assistance. However, he won’t be a hero just for 90 seconds, but for an entire lifetime.