Michael McCauley and his girlfriend were watching a movie in their home in Greenwich, Conn., on Sunday evening, March 6, 2022, when they heard what sounded like an explosion in front of the house.
"When I looked out the front window I saw a Jeep Wrangler— at this point now upside down, on the roof – sliding down Putnam Ave," McCauley said.
He immediately ran across the front yard to assess the situation. The upside-down car was missing a tire.
"I saw a guy circling the car and asked, ‘Is everything OK?’ The man replied,
‘I don’t know, but there’s a lot of blood.’”
Knowing he was now "involved," McCauley — who had taken a Red Cross CPR/First aid class in 2016 — asked his girlfriend to call 9-1-1 and then jumped over the 4-foot fence that separated their yard and the road. He approached the car and forced open the driver’s-side door to get a better view inside the car. That’s when he saw a young woman awkwardly trying to sit up, in a huge puddle of blood.
"I knew I had to get her out of the car to better assess the situation and see where the blood was coming from," McCauley said.
He positioned himself with his hands around the woman’s waist and proceeded to slowly pull her from the car. He noticed his grip was slipping and then realized that the woman's left arm was missing. It had been severed just below the shoulder.
"I repositioned my grip and got her a few feet out of the car, resting against my chest," he said.
Then, recalling his training, he did a few things to help sustain her life. With the help of another man he called to assist, McCauley used his belt to construct a tourniquet around the nub of her shoulder to stop the bleeding. The woman was in shock, and McCauley noticed that she was starting to shiver.
"She was resting against me, and I noticed she was getting cold, so I grabbed her jacket that was lying near the driver’s door and draped it over her while trying to keep her calm," he said.
Providing care, treating for shock, using first aid and stopping the bleeding were all critical life-saving steps McCauley took as he waited for the professionals to arrive. Once the paramedics were there, he was able to take a step back and let the shock of everything that had just occurred sink in. Fortunately, the police and fire departments had responded along with EMS, and the paramedics were able to get the woman onto a stretcher and take her to the hospital in time to save her life.
For his remarkable and heroic actions, McCauley received the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit during the Metro New York North chapter’s 2023 Red & White Ball in Greenwich in April. This is the highest award given to an individual (or team) who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course. The certificate bears the signatures of the president of the United States, who is the honorary chairman of the American Red Cross, and the chairwoman of the American Red Cross National Board.
Stephanie Dunn Ashley, CEO of the Metro NY North Chapter, recently spoke to the young woman involved in the car accident, who has recovered and now lives in California. She said that she is forever in debt to McCauley and is so thankful he stepped up to help.
Thank you, Michael McCauley, for your lifesaving efforts!
You can learn lifesaving skills by signing up for a class at www.redcross.org/class.
Know someone who saved a life? Nominate them for an award at www.lifesavingawards.org.