Group of construction employees
Desert Fire Protection General Foreman Derrick Jeffers, third from left, recently received the Liberty Life Saver Award. Pictured with him are, from left, DFP Safety Director Larry Hanson, DFP President Steve Schmal, Liberty Mutual Representative Matthew Reese, DFP Safety Representative John Laurita and DFP Contract Manager Trapper Schmal.


General foreman puts “stop the bleed” training into practice, saves man’s life

Liberty Mutual Insurance recently awarded its prestigious Liberty Life Saver Award to Derrick Jeffers, a general foreman at Desert Fire Protection in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jeffers recently participated in “stop the bleed” training at work and put that training into action to save a man’s life when he came upon the aftermath of a vehicle accident.

The Liberty Life Saver Award was established in 1922 and is presented to a person directly responsible for saving a human life. Across the globe Liberty Mutual presents an average of 20 awards per year among its 700,000-plus business customers.

Read on to learn more about Jeffers’ life-saving actions.

If you have kids, you know the story. You’re in the grocery store trying to get what you need without your toddler making a scene. Your phone rings: your finance manager needs your driver’s license number. As soon as you pull your ID out of your wallet, your 3-year-old wants it. You hand her the ID card to appease her.

After hanging up the phone and paying for your groceries, you realize you never got your ID back from your daughter. She doesn’t have it. You frantically search every aisle of the store, burning 20 minutes of your day on your way home from work.

This was the scene on a late Friday afternoon in August for Derrick Jeffers. It turns out that delay put him in the right spot at the right time.

Jeffers, a general foreman at Desert Fire Protection in Las Vegas, never found his ID. On the drive home he noticed a dust cloud. As he got closer, he saw a Polaris RZR side-by-side tipped over.

“I was thinking to myself that it needed to be flipped back over, and I had the gear in my Jeep to do that,” Jeffers said. He pulled over around the same time another Jeep stopped to help.

A man was frantically running around the scene. He was holding his left arm, which was covered in blood. The man’s knees buckled, and he fell to the ground.

Jeffers grabbed his first aid kit and ran to him. The man had severed most of his left hand, leaving just his thumb. Jeffers heard the woman in the other Jeep call 911.

“In that moment I experienced the biggest adrenaline dump I’ve ever had,” Jeffers said. “I could see the words on the first aid kit, but I couldn’t comprehend them. I stopped and took a deep breath and calmed myself down.”

He put on gloves and got to work on the man’s gruesome injury, loosely covering it with a large bandage. The man, named Jay, asked him to use a torniquet, but Jeffers recalled from his training at Desert Fire that a tourniquet is a last resort. He attempted to stop the bleeding by applying pressure.

While administering first aid and talking to Jay to keep his attention on anything other than his injury, Jeffers overheard the woman on the phone giving incorrect location information. Jeffers called out to her with the names of the cross streets, yelling it several times before she correctly repeated it to the 911 operator. She too was experiencing an adrenaline rush and seemed to be in shock.

Jeffers’ efforts in applying pressure to the wound were paying off. He could see that the blood loss had slowed significantly. By that time a third person had stopped at the scene and called Jay’s wife, who lives less than a minute from the accident location. She arrived almost immediately.

“After what felt like an eternity, we began to hear sirens,” Jeffers said. “The police arrived first and shut down the road. Moments later, the paramedics arrived. We were on an elevated dirt lot, so I helped Jay get up and walk to the ambulance while applying pressure to his wound.”

A firefighter located Jay’s severed hand and wrapped it up to be sent with him to the hospital.

The paramedics determined Jay needed to be taken by helicopter to the trauma center, as it was 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Rush-hour traffic could be fatal for him.

Jeffers later learned that Jay had been testing a suspension modification on his side-by-side. Just a few minutes had passed between the time he left his house and his wife getting a phone call about the crash. Jay was not wearing his seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. He suffered a concussion. His severed hand was crushed in the accident and could not be reattached.

Jay’s wife told Jeffers that the doctors said they didn’t know who found Jay out there, but that he was very lucky. Jeffers truly saved his life.

When Jay got out of the hospital a week after the accident, the two men got together and shared their experiences.

“He had no memory of the accident,” Jeffers said.

The two have become good friends. A 24-year-old HVAC technician, Jay has been out of the Marines for a little over a year. They live three minutes apart.

“I’ve pretty much adopted Jay as a new little brother to help him through adjusting to life with one good hand,” Jeffers said.