When Corporal Matt Siegfried walked into a Hammond home on October 6th and saw a 37-year-old man on the floor with a gunshot would to the leg, he jumped into action without hesitation.
“It’s not something you see very day,” Siegfried said. “But it’s not unheard of, either.”
Witnesses said during a verbal altercation in the home, another man shot the 37-year-old, who was bleeding from his wound. Hammond officers who arrived at the scene had apprehended the alleged assailant and had called emergency medical services for the victim.
However, Siegfried arrived beforehand and sat next to the wounded man to see if he could help. A week prior, Siegfried went through combat tourniquet training to properly use the tourniquets issued by the police department.
“You could tell he really needed help, it was hard to tell how much blood he lost” Siegfried said. “I asked him how he was doing he said, ‘I feel like I’m dying.’”
Knowing that within minutes of significant blood loss, unconsciousness and possible fatality could follow, Siegfried used his tourniquet on the man’s leg to stop the bleeding until emergency responders arrived on the scene.
After being taken to the hospital, Siegfried went with some officers to see how the man was doing.
“He was talking and joking at the hospital,” Siegfried said. “Even telling people to bring him ice cream.”
It wasn’t until after that he realized the gravity of the situation, when other officers pointed out that the man could have died from blood loss at the scene.
“I don’t see myself as a hero,” he said. “I was just doing my job. Afterwards I thought, ‘Wow, what if I hadn’t done that?’ I’m just happy I was able to do that for him. It’s one of those things where you’re at the right place at the right time.”
However, while the combat tourniquets are new to the Hammond Police Department, saving lives is not. Siegfried said he knew an officer who made a tourniquet from his belt to save someone.
“This isn’t new, it’s something all police officers are working to do,” he said. “We’re here to protect others.”
Siegfried has been an officer for the Hammond Police Department for ten years, beginning as a dispatcher in 2006. Siegfried was born and raised in Hammond, where his interest in police work began.
“As cliché as it sounds, I’ve always wanted to be a police officer,” Siegfried said. “So, since I was younger I’ve always had that goal in mind. I’m not sure when my interest began. My mom could probably find photos of me wearing a police outfit for Halloween when I was two years old.”
For Siegfried, it was the opportunity to be a helping hand in the community that drew him to becoming an officer.
“It’s all about helping people, being able to be there for someone, because if they’re calling us, it’s likely their worst day,” Siegfried said. “That’s why we’re here to help.”
In 2015, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Oakland City University while working for the Hammond Police department.
“It’s been a crazy rollercoaster ride,” he said. “A lot of great things have happened in my time here.”
Among his favorite things about his job is his partner, Derro, a German Shepard that’s been by his side for six years. Siegfried does a lot of training to keep sharp on the job, his favorite being K-9 unit training.
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “They say dog is man’s best friend. I see my dog more than I see my family. He’s with me at work and comes home with me every day. He’s a great partner to have.”
Hammond is a sprawling, populated city in The Region, giving its officer’s quite the length of road to patrol, and many residents to serve.
“It’s definitely a challenging environment,” he said. “There’s a lot of good things happening here, with all that the mayor and the city are doing to improve the area, and the residents; Those are the people we strive to be there for. We definitely need to focus on all of the good that’s making changes here.”
While Siegfried and his fellow officers find themselves often walking into difficult situations, there’s always the positive that balances it out.
“As police we have to deal with a lot of bad,” he said. “But we often get notes, too; people thanking us for our work.”
Siegfried isn’t the type to wear his accomplishments on his sleeve and says he doesn’t typically like “getting a pat on the back.” For him, the gratitude of the residents is enough.
“At the end of the day,” Siegfried said. “When someone sends a letter to your boss thanking you for a small thing, that hits home. It’s the little things that make a big difference.”
As far as a day in Siegfried’s shoes, no two days are the same.
“The thing that I like the most about what I do is that you never know what the next call will be,” Siegfried said. “We take the good with the bad, you never know what’ll happen.”
Siegfried lives in Winfield with Derro, his wife, Ashley, and two children; a six-month-old and two year old.
Siegfried stayed in the area because he enjoys all that Northwest Indiana has to offer, from the closeness of Chicago to the parks and walking trails across The Region.
“It’s where I was born and raised,” he said. “It’s taken care of me, I’ve always had a good job here. It’s home.”