DPS honors life-saving students

Two graduate students won a DPS award for treating a student’s critical wounds.

Sandeep Kahlon and Sheba Naderzad stopped Steven Shi’s bleeding wound after Shi injured himself trying to jump a fence into his apartment. (Jordan Renville / Daily Trojan)

Over three months after a life-altering event, two students gained recognition for their efforts in saving the life of a fellow student.

In front of the Department of Public Safety office, an audience consisting of family, friends and DPS officers came to support the two students Friday afternoon. The students received the “Lifesaving Recognition Award,” which took the physical form of a bronze statue of Tommy Trojan with the recipients’ names engraved on the front. Senior DPS officials gave speeches, including a reading of a message from President Carol Folt in her absence.

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On Nov. 11 at approximately 10 p.m., graduate students Sandeep Kahlon and Sheba Naderzad were walking home from class when they saw and heard Steven Shi walking toward them, bleeding profusely.

“He was walking towards us and we didn’t realize he was bleeding,” said Naderzad, a graduate student studying spatial data science. “He was asking for help and we couldn’t really hear him and once he got closer and closer, we realized that blood was dripping out of his leg and then, all of a sudden, start[ed] squirting out. At that point, everything went blank, pretty much. We had to just take action.”

Both students had to act quickly. Noticing the severity of Steven’s condition, they made a hasty decision that turned out to be a life-saving one.

“Sheba with her quick thinking, you know, he was bleeding, I was trying to look at my backpack, ‘Maybe I have some wraps,’” said Kahlon, a graduate student studying data science. “So, then [Sheba] gave me the idea, she said, ‘Sandeep: jacket, the jacket, use your jacket.’”

Using Kahlon’s jacket, the students built a makeshift tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Hill said the move was crucial to keeping Shi alive.

“According to the fire department and paramedics, Sandeep and Sheba’s quick actions to slow the bleeding likely saved Steven’s life,” said Chief of Public Safety Lauretta Hill.

Shi, a junior majoring in applied and computational mathematics as well as Computer Science, had attempted to jump a fence to reach his apartment, which had a broken keypad. He slipped and one of the sharp spikes on the fence pierced his left leg and lacerated his left femoral artery.

“It was a stupid decision getting over the fence,” Shi said.

Shi was present at the ceremony in good health. He gifted Sheba and Sandeep Chinese scrolls, a high honor in his tradition, for coming to his aid.

“First of all, thank you, Sheba and Sandeep, for saving my life,” Shi said. “I’d like to use the Chinese way to thank them.” 

Reflecting back on the incident, Kahlon said that there were also other students who offered to help in the situation.

“We’re just thankful for the people that [helped] and didn’t care about losing a jacket, whatever brand it is, or getting their hands a little dirty, and I hope that everyone can have that type of mentality,” Kahlon said.

After more than three months, Kahlon said he didn’t think anyone would remember their actions, which he said made Friday’s ceremony all the more special.

“Coming from a smaller city and smaller school, I would never think a big school like USC would even care about this,” said Kahlon about the school’s dedication to safety. “It’s really special that they actually do care.”

Hill, alongside approximately 35 officers, Assistant Chief of Public Safety David Carlisle and Senior Vice President of Administration David Wright, attended the event.

“I really appreciate all the officers coming out on this momentous occasion of a life-saving award,” Hill said. “It’s an honor to be here to give a life-saving award to our fellow students.”

Folt left a message to the students noting their “extraordinary actions.”

“Your quick thinking made all the difference, and it really shows your kindness, compassion,” Wright said on behalf of Folt. “All of us have had times in our lives when something happened to us and we needed help from others … That action is what makes for a strong community and your actions demonstrate what a strong community we have at USC; well done.”

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