Being a first responder does not stop at the end of the shift. The call to duty can arise at any moment. For Ferris Police Officer John DeLeon, that moment can when he was sound asleep at his home on June 16 after he was alerted to a knock on his front door.
“I quickly jumped up out of bed and saw that it was my neighbor from next door. I opened the door, and I was halfway asleep, and they were pretty frantic,” DeLeon recalled. “They told me that a dog down the street was mauling someone. I kind of poked my head out the door and saw someone laying in a ditch a few houses down.”
DeLeon stated he threw on some shoes, grabbed his service pistol and a flashlight and ran out the door.
As he approached the victim, he saw that it was his neighbor, Ronnie Bell. Bell, at the time of the dog attack, had been walking back from a convenience store. As he got closer, DeLeon noticed that one dog was dead and two other dogs were back inside their owner’s property.
“The owner of the dog’s son was standing there with a pistol. I quickly identified myself as a police officer and told him to put the pistol up, which he did,” DeLeon said. “The first thing I noticed is there was a large portion of his bicep was missing. It was bad. There was blood everywhere.”
DeLeon stated Bell was in a lot of pain, so his first step was to keep him conscious and prevent him from going into shock. He then asked a neighbor standing nearby for a belt.
The neighbor ran into their home and returned with a belt that DeLeon used as a tourniquet on Bell’s arm to stop the bleeding.
As he was putting the belt in place, DeLeon kept Bell focused by talking with him and using his name repeatedly. Within five minutes, Dallas Firefighters arrived on scene and took over patient care. Bell was then transported to a local hospital.
“I have been to dog bites and mean dogs, but never an attack of that nature,” DeLeon described. “Not anything like that.”
DeLeon stated doctors thought they were going to be able to save the right arm. But the limb turned out to be too severely damaged by the attack, which forced doctors to amputate.
According to the Go Fund Me page set up for Bell, he had more than 14 units of blood administered due to an artery being ripped open. He also has more than 100 staples in his body to close up wounds received in the attack.
Eddie Salazar, Ferris Police Chief, stated last year officers throughout the state were mandated to go through self-aid and buddy-aid training. This training gave DeLeon and his fellow officers basic medical knowledge and skills to help a person who might have become injured. DeLeon recommends that his fellow officers receive this training so they can help in a critical moment.
“You never know when you are going to need it. In my situation I was not on duty,” DeLeon said. “I think it is something that every officer and first responder should take a class in because you never know.”
Doctors later told DeLeon if he had gotten there even seconds later that Bell would not have made it because of how much blood he lost.
DeLeon stated that he is not a hero, but was just doing what anyone would do in that situation to help out a fellow person.
“I honestly don’t consider myself a hero. I just did what any other good person would do or would hope to do,” DeLeon explained. “It is just a part of the job, and that job will call you on your days off. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
The two got to meet for the first time since the attack happened on Wednesday.
In an interview with Fox 4, Bell stated, “If it wasn’t for him (DeLeon), he could have been a minute or two later, I wouldn’t be here.”
DeLeon shared that he is “just happy to know he is ok.”
People what to make a donation to help Bell through his recovery process can do so through the Go Fund Me page titled “Ronnie Bell Mauled by dogs." As of Friday, $790 of the $50,000 has been raised. Bell does not have insurance.