By the time Darrius Martin realized he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, Rome police officer Scott Kasmar happened to be at the right place at the right time that nearly fatal Wednesday morning in August.
“God was just shining on him that day,” Kasmar, a former EMT, said Friday before Martin presented him and Floyd County 911 Dispatcher Victoria Henson with “hero” awards for helping save his life after he’d been shot twice in the gut.
“It was very perfect timing,” Kasmar said. “Any sooner and I would have been at the station and it would have taken a little longer to get to him. Any later and I would have been up around Second Avenue by Floyd Hospital. As it turned out, I was at like Third Avenue and Broad Street when the call came in.”
The 911 call at 11:09 a.m. Aug. 28 from 232 S. Broad St. came from Martin himself. Earlier that morning, the 28-year-old had put his cell phone in his front pocket after talking to his brother. Normally, he would have thrown his phone on his bed, he explained later.
Five minutes before his call, a neighbor near Chuck’s Corner store talked to another dispatcher, telling her he heard a woman screaming and then saw a man choking a woman and dragging her into the house, according to a printed copy of the 911 calls.
The neighbor told the dispatcher he “just heard another loud bang” and heard a man scream before seeing the woman run out of the house.
“The woman was his ex-wife and he came over that morning and was still trying to control her,” Martin told the Rome News-Tribune Friday. “He caught us together and things ensued.”
Before Martin knew it, he’d been shot and was starting to bleed profusely. He grabbed his cellphone out of his pocket and dialed 911.
According an audio recording of that call, Martin told Dispatcher Henson to send help quick.
“I’ve been shot,” he told Henson between heavy moans and labored breaths. “Please hurry up.”
Henson tried to keep him calm and conscious while asking him where he’d been shot. She told him to put pressure on the wounds the best he could until help could arrive.
“Keep breathing for me,” she said as she tried to get information about the incident. “Do you know who shot you? What kind of gun was it? Do you know which way the shooter went?”
As she continued to remind him to breath and apply pressure, officer Kasmar arrived and knew immediately he needed to use his EMT skills — including his own first aid kit that included some special trauma gauze that helps blood begin to clot.
“When I got there, he was on the front stoop and he had a white shirt on and it was covered in blood from just below the collar bone down past his belly button,” Kasmar said. He was presented with an award Friday surrounded by many of his law enforcement colleagues in Rome Municipal Court. “I was pretty worried about him because he’d lost a lot of blood.”
Henson’s 911 line was still open as Kasmar worked on Martin. The call recording includes sounds of a woman screaming and other chaos going on around them.
Kasmar stayed focused as he looked for an exit wound. He warned Martin that the gauze he was going to use was going to hurt.
“Ow! Ow! Ow!” Martin can be heard on the 911 tape as Kasmar apologizes to him, telling him he knows he’s in pain and that they’ll get him to the hospital soon.
Within one minute, an EMS crew member arrived and helped Kasmar get Martin into the ambulance.
“I think that was the fastest I’d ever seen EMS arrive on scene,” Kasmar said later. “The timing was so critical because he’d lost a lot of blood already.”
Once at Floyd Medical Center, Martin was rushed into surgery. Later that day, Quincy Jamar Fluker tuned himself in at Floyd County Jail and was charged with felony aggravated assault.
Fluker, 32, has not been convicted of the crime and was released from the Floyd County Jail on bond.
Martin remained at the hospital for 21 days as he recovered from wounds to his liver, gallbladder and colon, according to his mother Shinice Ragland. One of the two bullets just missed his spine by mere inches.
Ragland said all she could do was pray when she first heard about her son being shot.
“When I got the phone call, I was at work and I jumped in my car and I was so nervous I couldn’t get it into gear,” the mother of four said after the awards ceremony. “I just kept saying, ‘God, please let my son live. Please let my son live.’ And he answered my prayers.
Henson said she, too, was praying for Martin that day. She said before receiving her award from Martin, she was excited to learn about the honor because sometimes dispatchers and first responders can feel forgotten by those they serve every day.
“I remembered his call clearly,” she said softly. “I remember talking to him and when I got off the phone, I prayed for him. A lot of times we don’t get closure unless they reach out to us. I’m really glad he did.”
Martin said during the awards ceremony that he hoped this recognition will help bridge the divide between his South Rome neighborhood and the law enforcement community.
“I do appreciate what you did. Both of you,” he told Kasmar and Henson. “I just want to thank you for playing such a big part in me still being here.”