When Riley County Police Department receives word of an injury accident or a serious call, an alert tone is sent out and officers are informed of the details and dispatched to the scene.
On April 8, a call came in about a one vehicle, two-motorcycle injury accident at the intersection of Riley Avenue and Walnut Street in Ogden, Kansas. The nearest responder was Police Service Aide Chase Downing, senior in marketing.
PSAs are not sworn officers, do not carry guns and cannot make arrests. Despite these limitations, PSAs function in many of the same roles as police officers and corrections officers such as responding to traffic-related calls or transporting imprisoned individuals.
According to the PSA application on the RCPD’s website, applicants go through roughly four months of application, training and testing. The testing and screening involves physical fitness tests, background checks, questionnaires with over 500 questions and consulting with references.
When he arrived at the accident, PSA Downing found that the driver of the vehicle had fled the area and the motorcyclists were seriously injured. Downing began taking control of the scene until other first responders could arrive.
After radioing to dispatch about the severity of the crash and need for backup, Downing turned his attention to the motorcyclists. With the help of bystanders, Downing was able to secure the head and neck of each individual. It was then that he noticed the extent of one of the rider’s injuries.
“He was losing a great deal of blood from his leg,” Downing said. “I didn’t have time to grab gloves. I just grabbed his leg, trying to staunch the bleeding.”
Another bystander was able to create a tourniquet using a belt to slow the bleeding until Emergency Medical Services could arrive. The motorcyclist with the leg injury was air-lifted to Via Christi Hospital in Wichita, while the other motorcyclist was taken to Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan.
For his service that day, Downing was presented with an Achievement of Excellence award, which is a letter of appreciation from the director of the RCPD to employees who have gone above and beyond in their service.
Beyond his PSA duties of serving court subpoenas and responding to accidents, Downing is a full-time student. Interestingly enough, he is not studying anything related to criminology or pre-law, but is instead in the College of Business Administration studying marketing with an emphasis in sales. Four years ago, as a freshman, Downing decided he wanted more than the average college job.
“I wanted a job that was rewarding and gave me the experience of helping other people,” he said.
Downing said he decided to do police work and pursue a business degree because there were similarities between the two. Both jobs involve learning to read people and figuring out how to communicate in a way that they understand
“You have to work with people to identify the problem or need, talk them through it, develop a solution and then follow-up,” Downing said.
Downing’s College of Business executive mentor Kevin Grieves, manager of application development at BNSF Railways, said he believes it’s Downing’s people skills that help him transition between PSA work and school.
“He listens and responds appropriately,” said Grieves.
Officer Mat Droge, public information officer at the RCPD, said a lot of people don’t realize the amount of work the PSAs do.
“The stuff that they do for the department and the community, it’s significant,” Droge said. “It greatly helps out the police department. I can’t say enough good things about (Downing).”
Now, at four years after his first shift, Downing said he still loves going to work. He enjoys the challenge and highly recommends to others to get out of their comfort zone and try a new job.
His advice: “Do not limit yourself.”