“It was too cold to talk,” said Artigue, “but I grabbed his vest and tried to keep him above the water. He grabbed a hold of me and started to pull me down with him, but I was able to drag him by his vest to shore.”
The human chain helped to pull both Artigue and Tom out of the water. On a cold November day, coming out of cold, moving water, communication was difficult, but Artigue was able to keep Tom talking and conscious until emergency crews arrived.
“(The man) suffered a seizure and fell from a bridge,” said William E. Ciccosanti, who was the first officer at the scene of the incident. “(Artigue) risked her own safety to save a stranger. She definitely did a good job and should be commended for that.”
Tom was fishing from a bridge when he suffered the seizure, tumbled over the railing and fell more than seven feet into the water, just a few feet from the spot where the river is dammed. Had Artigue not jumped into the water when she did, there was a good chance that the victim would have been pulled under and into the dam, said Ciccosanti.
“This was the first time I’ve had to take it upon myself to take action,” said Artigue. “In the military there’s always someone there to help, but this time I wasn’t sure anyone else there could have helped the way I could. Being in the military has given me the confidence to do things I wouldn’t have as a civilian. It puts me a step above those without military training.”
A future trauma nurse, Artigue plans to use her experiences in the Guard and in Iraq to save as many lives as possible.
“Since Iraq,” she said, “I’ve learned to adapt and overcome. I saw what was happening and I had no option but to get involved because of not only my medical training, but also because of my personal responsibility. “I will always appreciate my military experience. It’s something I would never give up,” said Artigue.