Last week, an inmate at the Marshall County Jail attempted to take his own life, assistant chief deputy Steve Guthrie said. The inmate was housed in a cell with three other men who in the early morning hours woke up and realized what was happening.
According to Guthrie, the inmate had wrapped a bed sheet around his neck and held it behind his back as he lay down. The inmate’s airway was restricted causing him to lose consciousness. The other inmates then used the intercom system to notify corrections officers of the incident.
The intercom system did not exist when Sheriff Phil Sims took office, Guthrie said. The sheriff requested the County Commission to fund an intercom system to communicate with inmates in the cellblocks for safety and security reasons which was approved. An intercom did exist in the jail at one time, but had been removed over the years after it was no longer functional. The jail has 24/7 healthcare on site provided by Southern Health Partners.
Sgt. Frank Mason notified dispatch to contact medics and an ambulance to be en route. At that time, the entire shift worked as a team. Booking officers from the ground floor went into the main jail control tower to cover the remaining cells allowing Sgt. Mason and others to enter the cell block. Sgt. Mason, along with nurse Nancy McMahan and other guards, entered the cell and began to render aid.
They found the inmate unconscious. Sgt. Mason began chest compressions and the inmate responded but again lost consciousness as soon as compressions stopped for a total of three times. During this highly stressful situation, Sgt. Mason refused to stop and eventually the inmate was revived and transported to Marshall Medical Center. After doctors examined the inmate, he was released and transported back to the Marshall County Jail with no injuries.
Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims released this statement:
“The inmate is alive today thanks to the actions taken by the entire shift that truly care about their jobs and this office. Correction officers are sometimes forgotten in the public’s eye for the role they play here at the Sheriff’s Office. They come to work every day and enter a locked facility with people who are convicted of or awaiting trial for misdemeanor crimes as well as violent crimes, such as rape and murder. They guard these people for the safety of the public as well as the safety of the inmates. They are exposed to some of the worst working conditions and they still give this office 100 percent each and every day. Sgt. Mason and his shift did not wake up that morning thinking they would save a human life later that day, but they did. Ultimately the goal is to keep the inmates as well as themselves safe so at the end of the day all officers go home. That being said thank you all for a job well done.”