Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats said that six inmates chose to help the deputy, who suffers from a chronic medical condition that makes him sensitive to changes in temperature, instead of fleeing.
On June 12, the deputy was traveling with the inmates from an air conditioned building to a particularly hot and humid work site, where he started hyperventilating and then passed out.
The inmates immediately took action.
While one used the deputy’s phone to call 911, others removed his bulletproof vest and gun belt so he could breathe better. They prepared to provide CPR, but the deputy never stopped breathing, the sheriff said.
“As we watched the horrific man hunt this week of the two inmates that killed two correctional officers and were captured last night, we all know that Monday could have ended differently for our officer,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook after the incident.
Inmates in a county jail typically earn two days time for each day served. Those who volunteer for work detail can earn three days for every one, and those on good behavior can earn up to four.
Their efforts called for the highest reward, Moats said.
The sheriff’s department also treated the inmates to a pizza lunch in the park. The deputy’s family members joined in, baking desserts to show their gratitude.
The deputy has been cleared by a doctor and returned to work, Moats said.