GA Deputy Credited with Saving Life of Woman Who Cut Off Her Hand

The photo shows the front of an ambulance with its emergency lights on.
File Photo

Wayne Ford

Athens Banner-Herald, Ga.


When Madison County Sheriff’s Deputy Glenn Cowan arrived at a Colbert home recently to investigate a report of a self-amputation, he observed a woman outside the house whose left hand was missing.

The woman knelt to the ground and Cowan reported he immediately applied a tourniquet to her upper left arm to shut off the flow of blood.

Cowan contacted communications to let them know about the hand amputation and requested the ambulance “step up their response to the scene,” according to the Oct. 18 report.

While awaiting the ambulance, the woman told Cowan her hand was in the garage and the deputy found it on top of a riding lawn mower. Next to the mower in a pool of blood was a bow saw, commonly used for cutting small trees and limbs, according to the report.


The woman told the deputy she had intentionally cut her hand off with the saw, but did not offer an explanation.

Medical workers quickly arranged to have the woman taken by Lifeflight to a hospital. The request was made at 12:54 p.m. and the helicopter arrived at 1:18 p.m., whereupon the woman and her hand were flown to a hospital.

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jeff Vaughn said Monday that Cowan received a commendation for his quick action.

The medics “said straight forward that if Glenn hadn’t have gotten there when he did and applied the tourniquet, she would have died,” Vaughn said.

“He’s an exceptionally good officer,” Vaughn said of Cowan, who joined the Madison County Sheriff’s office a year ago in October after an approximately 30-year service with the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and University of Georgia Police Department.

The woman remained hospitalized Monday. Drugs were not a factor in the amputation, which appeared to be a mental health issue, according to Vaughn.


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