911 dispatcher recognized for trying to save pedestrian hit by vehicle while off-duty

911 dispatcher recognized for trying to save pedestrian hit by vehicle while off-duty
Tasharnda Gainey is presented with the first Heroism Award. (Source: Richmond’s Department of Emergency Communications)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A Richmond 911 dispatcher is being recognized for heroism as she tried to save a pedestrian who had been hit by a vehicle while she was off-duty.

Tasharnda Gainey helps save lives every day, so she didn’t think twice when she jumped into action after she came upon a crash scene along Jefferson Davis Highway in Chesterfield County on July 24.

“I have a medical background. If I see somebody in need, I have to stop,” said Gainey, who has worked with the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications since 2008.

Tasharnda Gainey in the Emergency Communications Center.
Tasharnda Gainey in the Emergency Communications Center. (Source: Richmond’s Department of Emergency Communications)

Gainey had just picked up her 2-year-old twins from the babysitter and was heading to get food for her teenage daughter.

“I cut around, and it was an extremely long way. I just could not think how to get there,” said Gainey, a resident of North Chesterfield for 22 years. “I drove all around and told the kids, ‘I guess we’re taking a ride today.’”

“I could see someone lying in the road,” she said. “I could kind of see him from the side, and I yelled to my daughter, ‘turn your head; don’t look.’”

Gainey said she was surprised that no one was helping the victim, even though others were nearby.

“My God, there’s nobody here,” she said. “I heard no sirens, nothing. That freaked me out more than his condition.”

That’s when she called Chesterfield 911 about the crash and told them, “Step it up; he’s in bad shape.”

Gainey is a former emergency medical technician with the Bensley Bermuda Rescue Squad in Chesterfield and trained in CPR, so she was already doing CPR when the Chesterfield dispatcher was going to tell her how.

She said she continued chest compressions to the beat of “Staying Alive” until Chesterfield Fire and EMS arrived. Unfortunately, the victim did not survive.

“I stopped this time because I didn’t see anybody helping him,” she said. “Somebody needed help. That drew me in. I couldn’t just drive by. I wouldn’t be OK with it.”

This wasn’t the first time Gainey stopped to help at a crash site though. In 2002, Gainey helped at a crash near the intersection of interstates 295 and 64 in Henrico County.

Because of her willingness to help, even when not on the job, Gainey was presented with the department’s first Heroism Award on Aug. 12 in recognition of her actions.

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