Henry lawman's rapid response saves life

A Henry police officer was honored Tuesday –– during the County Commission meeting –– for quick-thinking and vital actions that saved a young man's life.

Officer Bear Ferebee, 43, said his military and law-enforcement training helped him save the life of Wayne Simpson, 20, of Locust Grove.

Henry Police Chief Keith Nichols presented Ferebee with a medal and plaque, and expressed pride in the officer's handling of the emergency situation. The chief said his employees are often called upon to act and think quickly in life-threatening situations.

"Many of us, when we wake up in the morning, we know what to expect," Nichols told the commissioners. "These young men and women out here, they don't know what to expect. As Officer Ferebee found out, when you don't know what to expect, you have to act and react according to your training."

The recognition followed an incident, in which the officer revived Simpson after Simpson collapsed on a basketball court.

On Jan. 4, Ferebee was off-duty when he and a group of friends were preparing to play basketball at J.P. Moseley Recreation Center in Stockbridge.

Shortly after the officer arrived at the center, he saw Simpson fall to the floor on a basketball court. Ferebee said he initially thought Simpson was simply tired, after playing several basketball games.

"His eyes went blank and went back, and I thought, no, it's something more than that," said Ferebee. "I called out to him several times, and he didn't respond. I checked his pulse, and he didn't have one."

The officer said he then cleared Simpson's airway, and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Ferebee was then given an automated external defibrillator, a device used to shock a person in need of medical attention.

"He was in cardiac arrest," said Ferebee, a former U.S. Army airborne ranger, who has worked with the police department for seven years.

The officer added that he shocked Simpson several times, before feeling a pulse.

"It was faint, but he did have one," Ferebee said.

Simpson's mother, Kimmie Simpson, of Locust Grove, said her son began physical therapy on Tuesday, at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. She said he is "walking and talking again," after being in a three-week coma, following the basketball episode.

Kimmie Simpson explained that, prior to the fainting spell, her son had been stabbed Nov. 27, at a park in Locust Grove. The stabbing, she said, occurred while her son was home for Thanksgiving break from Lincoln University in Kansas.

The mother said Wayne confronted another person at the park, who had been "picking on" his brother, J.J. The confrontation quickly turned violent, resulting in the stabbing, Kimmie Simpson said.

"[Wayne] didn't know he had been stabbed, until he got in the car and was bleeding," said Kimmie Simpson, 41.

Her son, she continued, was taken to Atlanta Medical Center, where he stayed for eight days before his release.

Kimmie Simpson said that on Jan. 4, she was at home when her son, J.J., called her about the basketball incident. She then issued a plea to God on behalf of Wayne.

"I told God, ‘This is my first-born child. You told me you were going to keep him safe. You're not going to take him away from me right now,'" Kimmie Simpson said. "When I went to see him, that's when I broke down, because of all the tubes that were hanging out of him."

She credited the support of family and friends from New York, Connecticut, Africa and Jamaica with supporting her and Wayne during his recovery.

"I was told he would not walk, eat on his own or breathe on his own again," she said. "But, he's doing all that now, because of prayer."

The mother said she is grateful to Officer Ferebee for saving Wayne's life.

"I really appreciate his help with what he did for my son," said Kimmie Simpson. "God placed him there at the right time, in the right place."

The mother added that she is not pursuing a criminal case against the person who stabbed her son.

Ferebee added that he is thankful that his training allowed him to help Wayne Simpson. "I always tell people when I'm dealing with them, ‘God puts me where He needs me, when He needs me," said Ferebee. "A lot of people don't know how to take care of a human being, in an emergency situation. I'm glad I was there for him."