By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Dedication to his job and intuition is what Laurel County Jailer Jamie Mosley credits to a deputy jailer who rescued an inmate during an attempted suicide last week.
Around 8 p.m. on New Year’s Day, Sgt. Matthew Deaton did an unscheduled check of a cell block. Mosley said deputy jailers are required to conduct and document checks every hour, although he encourages employees to do random, unscheduled checks throughout their shift. Deaton acted on that instruction and found a 25-year-old male hanging from his cell bunk post. The inmate, whose name is not being released, had apparently tied a blanket to the bed post and around his neck in a suicide attempt.
Deaton said the man was unresponsive and was not breathing.
“He had no pulse and his face was swollen,” Deaton said. “He had already changed color — he had a bluish-purplish color.”
Deaton immediately began CPR and, after doing some chest compressions, the inmate took a deep breath and began breathing once more.
The inmate reportedly has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and depression. With the jail population being the lowest in several months, the inmate was in a two-person cell but did not have another inmate in the cell with him at the time of the incident. Mosley explained the cell block where the incident occurred has six, two-man cells with all of those sharing a “commons” area. With no one in the cell with him, the inmate had full reign to attempt taking his own life without being seen by others.
“The incidents of suicide and attempted suicide are greater during the holidays, and jail is no exception,” Mosley said. “Due to the intuition of Sgt. Deaton, this man is alive today.
“Though this young man may not realize it right now, he owes his life to the heroic efforts of Sgt. Matthew Deaton,” Mosley added. “Had it not been for his ability to sense the need to check this particular group of cells prior to the scheduled routine inspection, this young man would have died.”
After Deaton began CPR on the inmate, the facility nurse came to assist, and the facility physician came soon after. The inmate received diagnostic testing as well as X-rays to determine any possible internal damage. Mosley said the man also underwent a mental health evaluation and is receiving services from Cumberland River Comprehensive Care Center.
“They believe there is no long-term damage, but (the inmate) was put in a medical observation cell on the first floor,” Mosley added. “He is in there with limited material and he is checked every 15 minutes by the officers, and checked by the medical staff every hour. Our attention now must turn to making every attempt to address the issues of this young man and provide the necessary treatment for him to develop the desire to face those issues.”
Mosley credited the technology in the Laurel center for providing a safer environment than many other jails in the region.
“We are one of the few facilities in the state that has cameras in the cells,” Mosley added. “Our staff does constant checks through those cameras. That is something that I preach and preach — to always be on the offensive and be aggressive on it. We’re proud of all our employees and their dedication.”