It was a bloody scene at a Home Depot in West Covina, Calif., on Wednesday when a man entered the store and began sawing his arms off with a hand saw, scaring customers into a panic, according to local police.
The man, who is in his late 50s, is not being identified and is in critical condition. However both his arms were saved, a Queen of the Valley Hospital spokesperson said.
Capt. Art Hurtado, an off-duty paramedic from Pasadena, said in a press conference Thursday that he was going to the store for supplies for a project and had stumbled upon police outside the store. He ran in to help with the scene and saw the man lying face down and surrounded by a pool of blood.
"There was pandemonium when I walked into the store. A lot of chaos, people running in all directions," Hurtado said. "As I walked in, he was face down and I thought it was a crime scene with a fatality, that is how it seemed. There was a pulse, a very faint pulse and he was barely breathing. I knew I had to slow the bleeding down, or this patient may or may not make it."
Hurtado said he did not have the equipment he normally would have with him had he been working. So he immediately had to "engage in some cursory care" by asking for towels and rope, which he used to make a makeshift tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
"We started the tourniquet in his worst arm, and the dressings were applied to both," he said. "We got him into a gurney, and he was taken to the local hospital."
The man was taken to the hospital and his family was notified early Thursday morning, the hospital spokesperson said.
Hurtado, who has served with the Pasadena Fire Department for 22 years, said he is always ready to help, whether he's at work or not, because of his "training as a firefighter and a paramedic."
"I am always on duty, just like any other brother and sister firefighter," he added.
Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for Home Depot, told ABCNews.com he commends all individuals involved in the rescue of the man.
"We greatly appreciate the fantastic support from the first responders, the city, and our employees and we're all pulling for a full recovery for this individual," Holmes said. "It was obviously extremely tragic, and we want to show our appreciation to the city and the great job they did."
The Home Depot was cleaned by a third-party hazardous-material team and opened for business as schedule Thursday, Holmes said.