On this weekend back in 2022, Folsom residents Paul Bandy and Aimee Johns were celebrating their wedding anniversary in Monterey when their weekend took a scary and a heroic twist they never expected, when they found themselves rescuing a shark attack victim in the waters of the beach they were at.  

Saturday, the two decided to celebrate their latest anniversary in Folsom by giving back in a way that connects to that day two years ago when their quick actions likely saved a man’s life. It wasn’t a trip back to the coast, or a local fancy dinner, it was by donating blood in a time that local supplies are lean.


Rewinding back to June 22 of 2022, a man the two didn’t’ even known by the name of Steve Bruemmer was swimming 150 yards from the beach in Monterey when suddenly, a great white shark attacked him. Bruemmer managed to free himself from the jaws of the shark, but he was badly injured in the attack and started screaming for help. It was at that time that Bandy and Johns sprang into action along with a surfer nearby them. Bandy, being a police officer by trade and Johns, being a nurse, the two put their knowledge, expertise and hearts into action immediately. 

The two, along with the local surfer, jumped into the waters with their surfboards and paddles and made their way to the struggling victim. As they were paddling their way to Bruemmer, Bandy had already made a call to 911 to assure first medical aid was on the way, knowing Bruemmer had suffered traumatic injuries and seeing that he had already lost a great amount of blood.


After reaching Bruemmer, they assisted back to the beach where others joined them, pitching in to make tourniquets in an effort to curtail the heavy loss of blood Bruemmer was suffering.  First responders from the Monterey Fire Department and the Pacific Grove Police Department arrived at the scene quickly. Despite suffering a life threatening femoral artery injury, Bruemmer survived the horrific experience that severely injured his arms, legs and abdomen. 

During his extensive surgeries, Bruemmer received some 28 blood transfusions, Vickie Wolfe of Vitalant told Folsom Times. On that day it wasn’t only the local couple that saved Bruemmer’s life, it was the many blood donors prior to the accident that greatly contributed.  Since local blood centers struggle for donations during the summer months with many travelling afar and June is Trauma Awareness Month, Bandy and Johns felt compelled to spend their anniversary donating blood in Folsom Saturday, in honor of Bruemmer, who they have stayed in touch with.


“As an oncology nurse, I understand the need for blood, whether it’s for people fighting cancer or people with traumatic injuries like Steve’s,” said Johns. “People in our community rely on blood being available and that means we need generous people willing to take an hour or two out of their day to give someone a chance at life. It’s important.”


Bruemmer is eternally grateful for the selfless and heroic acts of Bandy and Johns that day that he testifies he reflects on, knowing he very well could have died without them. At the same time, he is grateful for the blood donors that he didn’t even know, that played the crucial role in making him able to share his story today. Bruemmer himself, has made a commitment to regularly donate blood himself to help others that may find themselves in a situation like he did.

“The blood donor is today’s good Samaritan, the anonymous person that literally give of themselves to save somebody,” said Bruemmer. “Without the blood donors, I would be dead.  There are half a dozen different things that I needed that day to survive, but none of them would have done any good without the blood donors. In two hours I took 28 units of blood. Two of those units were platelets which can take a couple of hours to give and from what I understand they have a short shelf life, which means somebody sat for two to three hours to donate platelets within about five days of my incident.”


Today, Bruemmer continues his recovery process. At times he still needs assistance walking, he hopes to get back to regular bike riding one day and he has already returned to swimming, just not in the ocean. 

Bandy and Johns were hailed heroes after their act that day and honored with a Carnegie Medal for Heroism award and awards from the City of Pacific Grove and, fire and police. But the two are very humble about what they did that day.

As he spent his anniversary with his wife by his side Saturday, donating blood with her, Bandy reflected on that day where his training to save others kicked into action at a time that he least expected it would. But he too, stressed the importance of blood donors and the heroic role they play for so many they don’t even know.

“Police officers often see injuries requiring blood. These are not just people in situations like Steve’s but also my law enforcement team members,” Bandy said. “I understand that blood needs to be already donated and available at hospitals before patients actually need it.”

Those wishing to donate blood in Folsom can do so at Vitalant’s Donation Center that is located at 150 Natoma Station Drive.  The center is open every day except Sunday’s with a variety of hours to suit those with busy work schedules and busy lives. For local information and hours donors can call 877-258-4825 or they can go online and pick a donation day and time on the Vitalant donor website HERE.