I wish to make the Department aware of Harbor Officer John Novak’s recent lifesaving actions while working on a Harbor Patrol boat during the recent Seafair activities on Lake Washington.
On 8/3/19, the US Navy Blue Angels had just completed their acrobatic airshow in the late afternoon. From the shores of Seattle to Mercer Island, hundreds of spectator-packed vessels lined the area north of the I-90 floating bridge. Some vessels were anchored and others were drifting freely. Numerous vessels were tied to one another in rafts and there were hundreds of people in the water.
At approximately 1630 hours, a boat approached Officer Novak’s patrol boat. The occupants relayed that there was a person on board another boat who had just suffered a serious injury.
Officer. Novak immediately advised radio, requesting SFD medics on board another Harbor Patrol boat respond. Officer Novak then motored his Harbor boat through the thick crowd of boats and swimmers to the reported area, locating the boat with the injured person aboard.
When Officer Novak arrived, the victim was lying unconscious on the back of the boat. Officer Novak observed what appeared, based on the massive bleeding, to be an injury to the victim’s femoral artery – as well as additional deep cuts to the victim’s femur. The victim’s friends were using beach towels to try to stop the bleeding, but could not do so. Officer Novak boarded the boat immediately applying direct pressure to the victim’s groin using the full weight of his knee in conjunction with a trauma dressing. This immediately stopped the bleeding. While continuing to control the victim’s bleeding, Officer Novak applied a tourniquet and eventually with the assistance of SFD Medics transferred the patient over to another Harbor boat to make a high-speed run to Mt. Baker Beach.
The patient was delivered to landside SFD medics and transported to Harborview Medical Center where he survived his injuries.
Officer Novak’s actions were heroic and without a doubt saved the victim’s life. Navigating through heavy boating traffic, Officer Novak arrived within two minutes of the initial report of injury. He directly cared for the victim for five to seven minutes until he was turned over to SFD Medics at Mt. Baker Beach.
Officer Novak’s rapid response, situational awareness, decision-making, and life-saving actions in treating this injured victim are to be commended.