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Off-duty medic hailed for aiding man who sawed arms at Home Depot

April 11, 2013|By Joseph Serna

A man who tried to saw his arms off in a West Covina Home Depot bled all over the store and was on the brink of death before he was rescued, a first-responder said.

Art Hurtado, an off-duty Pasadena paramedic who was at the store, was the first medic on scene to help police.

“Found him face down, blood all over the store, multiple aisles,” Hurtado told NBC4. “Barely had a pulse and he was just barely breathing.”

West Covina police say the man calmly, quietly walked into Home Depot before 1 p.m. Wednesday and headed to the hardware section where the saws are.

“He walked into the saw area and began cutting both of his arms,” said Cpl. Rudy Lopez. “One was a saw used to cut drywall. He used several saws.”

The man cut both arms down to the bone as panicked customers called 911.

The man, described as possibly a Latino in his late 30s or early 40s, was passing out as officers arrived, police said.

Officers tried to help when Hurtado arrived from another part of the store. He told NBC4 he thought it was going to be a crime scene with a fatality.

Hurtado told workers to get lots of towels. People came back with towels and quarter-inch nylon rope.

“I ripped it open and started stretching it out,” Hurtado said. “I told the police officer I wanted 24-inch sections, just start cutting.”

They created makeshift tourniquets.

“If I didn’t have rope I would’ve used my shoelaces,” Hurtado said. “We would’ve made it work.”

In the end, it did work. The man was rushed to a local hospital and underwent emergency surgery. The Associated Press reported the man was in critical condition Thursday.

“It was a godsend” Hurtado was there, Lopez told NBC4. “He happened to be in the right place at the right time. Probably saved his life.”

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

twitter.com/josephserna

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