Officer honored with VALOR Award for lifesaving efforts

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Ian McAllister had recently been promoted to sergeant on night patrol for the Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department when he found himself in an alleyway rendering first aid to a critically wounded woman.

In the early morning hours of July 24, a VCU Police officer had reported hearing shots fired in the 1300 block of West Broad Street. The officer called for backup and McAllister rushed to the scene.

Officers found a woman lying outside a privately owned apartment building. She had been shot.

McAllister started to administer care to the woman’s wounds, though he was unsure where the shooter was. He simultaneously had dispatchers issue a campuswide emergency text message and coordinated the response of officers arriving on scene.

McAllister’s actions that night saved one woman’s life. Two other individuals found inside the building by other VCU Police officers were wounded. One of the wounded would eventually die from their injuries. None of the wounded individuals were affiliated with VCU, but VCUPD officers respond to all critical incidents in the department’s jurisdiction. 

McAllister’s leadership that night was carried out without concern for his own well-being.

For his selfless response, McAllister was awarded a bronze VALOR award by the Retail Merchants Association of Richmond on Nov. 10. In its 27th year, the annual awards ceremony recognizes first responders in the Greater Richmond area for “selfless acts involving personal risk.”

This is the first year local campus law enforcement agencies have been included in the nominating process for VALOR awards.

McAllister said before the shots were fired it had been a pretty standard night for patrol officers. He assigned officers to locations where he thought they would be needed around VCU’s campuses, not expecting such a grave night.

“The best laid plans, no matter how meticulous you were in planning, can go out the window,” McAllister said. However, his training played an integral part of his response.

McAllister said his muscle memory kicked in from both his National Guard training and additional basic life support review he completed prior to the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond in 2015.

Prior to the UCI bike race, VCUPD officers were mandated to increase their level of basic life support knowledge in the event of mass casualties at the international competition. VCU Health provided each officer with a Quick Clot Belt Trauma kit to help stop traumatic bleeding — kits that each officer still maintains as part of their duty belt.

It was the gauze from this kit that McAllister used to treat the injured woman. When the sergeant visited the woman in the hospital weeks afterward, he learned that her bleeding would have been much worse had he not started treatment on scene. 

From 2005 to 2006, McAllister served as a security guard at VCU but returned and became a sworn police officer in 2011. He served in the Virginia National Guard from 2002 to 2006 and was deployed to New Orleans following the devastating Hurricane Katrina.

He credits a combination of his training and experience at VCU and in the Virginia National Guard for guiding him that night. He thanks his fellow officers for responding quickly that July night when every moment mattered to those injured at the scene.

McAllister’s shift that night included rookie police officers and he was proud of how they handled themselves.

“I couldn’t have done my job if my officers didn’t do theirs.”


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