After the shots rang out near her house, Brenda Riley did what most of us would: She took a look out the window. The just-after-midnight darkness on Sunday was broken up by streetlights, and she saw quickly that something was wrong. A police car was driving off, leaving a person on the ground in distress across the street. Ms. Riley threw on clothes and went to see what was the matter, becoming the first person to come upon seriously wounded Fairbanks Police Sgt. Allen Brandt. For the next several minutes, she stayed with Sgt. Brandt, offering human compassion that, under the circumstances, was a brave act. It deserves recognition.
When she came upon Sgt. Brandt, Ms. Riley saw he had been shot multiple times at point-blank range. Most of the shots had hit his leg, but one had hit him in the chest, flattening against his bulletproof vest and ejecting a piece of shrapnel into his left eye. He was on his radio with police dispatch, telling them what had happened.
For her part, Ms. Riley called 911 and kept dispatchers apprised of Sgt. Brandt’s condition. Though the conditions of Sgt. Brandt’s leg and eye were severe, she remained calm and talked to him, trying to keep him from losing consciousness or slipping into shock. In relatively short order, emergency responders showed up and took over care of Sgt. Brandt, but there’s no disputing Ms. Riley’s actions just after the shooting were crucial to helping keep Sgt. Brandt focused and as alert as was possible.
What’s more, her actions were brave. She came onto the scene of a firefight just after it ended, not knowing whether Sgt. Brandt’s assailant might return. Many people, even if they called 911, would have remained in their homes instead of venturing out to provide aid. Perhaps that course of action would have been more prudent with regard to ensuring Ms. Riley’s own safety, but she chose to display compassion in a moment when it was needed most, and that compassion helped Sgt. Brandt in his time of greatest need.
From a first aid perspective, Ms. Riley’s response to Sgt. Brandt’s plight was dead on. She assessed the scene of the incident, called emergency services and stayed with the victim, correctly judging that the best aid she could provide was to try and keep him conscious and out of shock until first responders arrived.
The shooting of Sgt. Brandt was a horrible, criminal act that shocked the Fairbanks community. But Ms. Riley’s actions provided some measure of solace for those who were heartsick about how such a scenario could play out here. Her aid and compassion showcased the best of our instincts, restoring some faith in our neighbors’ abilities and willingness to do the right thing. May we all have that strength when faced with similar circumstances.
— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,