11/20/2013 04:33 pm ET

Officer Awarded For Surgically Removing IED From Man's Neck

At a command staff meeting of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, Bomb Squad Sgt. Robert Whitley was presented with a Medal of Valor for his bravery in helping save the man in September.

Whitley told The Huffington Post Wednesday that the incident began when he got a call to report to the emergency room at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. Upon his arrival, he found a wounded man being prepped by hospital staff. The man had apparently fired a modified shotgun shell into his neck.

Doctors needed Whitley to remove the shell. "They didn't know what it was," Whitley said.

Most of the ER's staff evacuated, but at least one doctor stayed behind to instruct Whitley, 44, on how to remove the IED.

"The man put a bullet inside a shotgun shell and put a screw into the shell," Whitley said of the item. "When he fired the shell he wanted the screw to strike the bullet," which would then cause the bullet to explode.

Whitley chose not to wear protective gear while performing the operation. "I didn't have a bomb suit on or anything," he told us on the phone. "They're very heavy and cumbersome, so you don't have a lot of movement when you're in it."

He also said he wanted to see clearly, so he did not wear face protection.

The suicidal man, whose identity was not announced by authorities, was released shortly thereafter. Somewhat incredibly, he was in "fairly good condition," trauma surgeon Dr. Toan Huyn, who helped with the operation, told ABC News.

(Hat tip, Reddit)