GREAT FALLS — When Great Falls police officer Dimas Patina became aware that a woman had been reported with a head wound he didn't hesitate to jump into action, knowing where he might be able to find her. That was right at First United Methodist Church in downtown Great Falls, and there's a good chance his action saved her life.
Patina is used to checking on the area around the church, an area frequented by the homeless.
"Usually when I'm working downtown I'll swing through here just to make sure everything's okay, too, especially now. It's getting colder and, as you can see, they're kind of just bundling up here in their sleeping bags,” Patina said as he drove around the church.
One night recently while on patrol in the area, he made a stop at the church after a concerned citizen reported a woman in the area may be injured.
"I know the female through previous dealings,” said Patina. "When I pulled in, I was coming off Second Street and I saw a group of the homeless people that hang out around here and I just thought 'Hey, maybe she's over here.' So I pulled in over here and then as soon as I pulled in I saw her sitting back here in this back corner."
He said two other people were sitting with her, trying to convince her to go to the hospital to get treated for the large wound on the back of her head.
"My initial reaction was 'How are you walking around with this thing?' because I imagine if it was myself I would have been in a lot of pain. She was highly intoxicated at the time. I think that may have played into her not being able to feel it,” Patina recalled.
She initially refused treatment, but after an ambulance was called to transport her she agreed to go.
"She still was not thinking that the injury was as bad as it was until we got to the hospital. I took a picture of it and showed it to her and that's when she kind of realized 'That's what's going on back there?' Then, it kind of hit her and she started crying, actually,” Patina said.
How the woman got the wound is unclear.
"I have a lot of alcoholism in my family that have been in similar situations like that and I just kind of think 'How would I want someone to help them and to do something like that for them,” said Patina.
Patina says he wants people to know officers are human, sometimes they will make mistakes, but they are trying to do their best and helping the community is the police department's number one priority.
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