Our Nurse of the Week is Jordyn Pennington, a junior in the Chamberlain University College of Nursing who jumped in to help treat victims after witnessing a disastrous ride malfunction at the Ohio State Fair in July that killed one and injured seven others.
The Fireball, an 18-year-old fairground ride that spins and swings passengers in a pendulum-like motion, collapsed due to “excessive corrosion,” ejecting passengers from the ride. Letting her nursing school training take over, Pennington jumped in to help and later shared her memory of the experience with us.
To learn more about Pennington’s lifesaving nursing care following the ride malfunction, read our full interview with her here:
Can you briefly describe your experience witnessing the ride malfunction at the Ohio State Fair and what motivated you to jump in and help?
I did not personally witness the accident, my husband did. We were at a food stand when he saw the incident happen and yelled, “Jordyn, that ride just broke and people flew out!” When I first heard what he said, it didn’t click that something that awful had actually happened. I looked around and saw police officers and fair workers all running over to where the accident happened.
Within seconds of the ride malfunction, my husband and I ran to help. I walked up to where the police officers were pushing the crowd back and said, “Hi, I’m a student nurse, can I help?” From there I was led back to where the victims were, given gloves, and sent on my own to help in any way that I could. I knew those people needed help, and I was determined to help as much as possible.
How has your nursing education thus far prepared you to help in this kind of emergency situation?
Chamberlain University has done such a wonderful job of educating students on safety, assessment, and prioritizing. At first, I entered the scene and looked around to see where help was needed. I checked to see if anyone needed CPR (none was needed at the time), and moved on to who I felt would be a priority. When I was working with the patients and the two other wonderful nurses (who I didn’t know at the time were nurses), my Chamberlain training all came flooding back and I started working on instinct. I wanted to help in every way possible so I worked to find the people who needed help the most, and took immediate action.
What triage or first aid skills did you use to help those injured by the ride malfunction?
I helped coach breathing and applied pressure to stop bleeding (along with the other people, two wonderful nurses who I’m proud to now call friends). I held and stabilized a limb that I thought was broken, used communication to calm the victims down, prevented what could have been an additional life or death occurrence, helped hold arms for IV insertion, and helped keep the victims calm and still as much as I could. The two other nurses and I stabilized the victims as much as we could until the paramedics arrived.
While assisting in helping the victims still trapped in the ride, some people tried to manually open the seats that were stuck. From education I’ve received, you never move a trauma patient unless their life is in further danger. Since the people were not in any additional danger, I instructed them to stop trying to open the rides since the patients were safer in place than being moved which could cause further injury. I feel lucky to have stopped what they were doing, and honestly believe that my speaking up potentially saved lives.
What are your future plans for a career in nursing?
Honestly, I feel lucky to just be in a nursing program and in the future, to become a nurse. After this horrific incident, I know now that my heart belongs in trauma. I also have a huge soft spot for oncology as well. I currently serve as the president of Chamberlain’s College of Nursing Columbus campus Oncology Nursing Student Interest Group and couldn’t be more proud to help represent such a wonderful group!
Is there any other information you want readers to know about yourself, your nursing career, or your experience helping during a public emergency?
I’m just your average person who was in the right place at the right time to offer help. I’m a mother of two beautiful kids, and am married (4 years) to my high school sweetheart. Caring for people has always been a passion of mine, and I feel so lucky to be able to earn a degree in a field that I love.
Please lend a hand if you’re able to, and speak up if you know something is wrong. You never know what you’re truly capable of.
Hurricane Harvey made its first landfall on the southeast coast of Texas Friday evening as a Category 4 storm and continued to bring devastating amounts of rain to the state throughout the weekend. Many cities in the hurricane’s main path ordered evacuations ahead of the storm but Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country, was unprepared for the rain and flooding which left countless residents trapped in their homes.
The health care infrastructure in Houston has since found itself gridlocked by the hurricane. With ambulances unable to travel in floodwaters and helicopters grounded by the high winds, many hospitals struggled to treat storm victims throughout the weekend.
“We can be dry and open but if you can’t deliver patients to the medical center, that’s our biggest concern.”
Thanks to required hospital engineering improvements following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Tropical Storm Allison which damaged southeast Texas in 2001, most major hospitals in Houston were able to protect themselves against the flooding. This allowed them to continue operating throughout the storm and protect patients already inside, but hospitals were left cut off from patients trying to reach them. William McKeon, president and chief executive at Texas Medical Center in Houston, tells The New York Times, “We can be dry and open but if you can’t deliver patients to the medical center, that’s our biggest concern.”
Law enforcement officials have begun identifying safe routes to hospitals and sharing them with emergency medical service agencies to coordinate the rescue of hurricane victims. This coordination and teamwork seen during Hurricane Harvey shows how healthcare networks have learned from other incidents and put practices in place to prevent hardships experienced during previous storms. To learn more about Houston’s hospital efforts to treat storm victims of Hurricane Harvey, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Darren Moon, a staff nurse in the Loma Linda University Medical Center emergency department, who recently received the 500th Healing Hands Award for his lifesaving care. When patient David Colwell was admitted after experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, Moon stepped in and took the necessary steps to ensure that Colwell received the lifesaving medical care he needed.
Moon was reunited with the patient whose life he saved after Colwell nominated him for the Loma Linda University Health Healing Hands Program. Surrounded by emergency department colleagues, Moon was recognized for his actions as the 500th Healing Hands Grateful Patient Program recipient.
According to News.LLU.edu, Colwell addressed Moon at the awards presentation with the following: “Thank you for your expertise and quick action to address my situation. I understand you were also part of the team in the cardiac cath lab who attended to me. I’m glad you are part of the Loma Linda family.” The nomination came as a surprise to Moon, but he was honored to receive the 500th Healing Hands pin.
The Loma Linda University Health Healing Hands Program provides patients a way to recognize staff members who have provided exceptional care, according to their website. The program allows patients and their families to give a gift of any amount, and direct it to supporting the campus in any way they choose along with a note to the caregiver.
Connie Cunningham, executive director of emergency services at Loma Linda University Health, praised Darren with kind words: “Darren is an amazing nurse, skilled and well-rounded. When David arrived in the emergency department, Darren was focused and calm as he sifted through all of the symptoms.”
Time is of the essence with patients like David who exhibit cardiac-related indicators, and thanks to Moon’s lifesaving care, Colwell is now in good health. To learn more about Moon and Colwell’s nurse-patient relationship, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Lauren Wirwille, bride-to-be, who was driving to her own bridal shower with her mom in the front seat when she noticed a minivan stopped in front of her. She decided to honk, prompting the car to start moving again, but after Wirwille turned at the intersection her mom saw the van veer off the road. Realizing that the man had looked slumped over, Wirwille pulled over and ran toward the man’s car where she found him unconscious.
As an emergency room nurse for St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Green Oak Township, MI, Wirwille knew exactly what to do to help the man who had gone blue in the face. She was already running late to her bridal shower but couldn’t help pulling over to help a stranger, and she quickly realized it was a good thing she had followed her instincts.
After instructing her mother to call 911, Wirwille began trying to find the man’s pulse. At the same time, another driver pulled over and offered to help get the man out of his vehicle. Then Wirwille immediately started CPR. She recalled the event to ABCNews.go.com, explaining that, “Not a lot of people know how to do chest compressions. After a little while, you do get tired, and you need to not be tired, so I had my mom start chest compressions. She did great. I was so proud of her.”
Shortly after starting CPR, Fire Chief Kevin Gentry arrived on the scene and assisted in performing chest compressions. The EMS crew was able to revive the man and transport him to Providence Hospital where they believe the man was recovering but weren’t able to retrieve any details.
Wirwille ended up being an hour late to her bridal shower, but she was welcomed with open arms and applauded for her heroic actions. She didn’t regret being late to her shower; she was simply humbled by the experience and happy she was able to help somebody through an emergency situation.
Earlier this month, the Texas A&M Health and Science Center held an event called Disaster Day, a mass casualty simulation to help prepare nursing students and other health science students for their future careers. The simulation was held in a gymnasium filled with approximately 400 volunteer victims affected by a tornado that touched down near Houston.
Matt Ward, a student leader for Disaster Day, tells TheBatt.com, “We have the largest simulation in the nation for running a disaster day. We have college of nursing, medicine, pharmacy, veterinary staff and biomedical sciences all here today. It’s important to get all of those communities together, because we have over 300 students on staff to help the patients that are here.”
As approximately 300 students entered the gymnasium, they were instructed to mark victims with green (not critical), yellow (need care), red (critical), or black (deceased) triage tags to determine their necessary level of care. The students were faced with a number of simulated emergencies from birthing mothers and mentally ill victims to lacerations, broken bones, and tree branches lodged in bodies. Simulation conditions included that all nearby hospitals were at full capacity so all medical work had to be completed on site.
College of Nursing Assistant Professor Alison Pittman tells TheBatt.com, “There are two nurses assigned to each row in the disaster and there is one provider assigned to each row. So they gave to triage their patients and decide who needs to be treated first, second, third.” The simulation provided an opportunity for students to experience a fast-paced emergency situation to prepare for potential catastrophes they might experience in their medical career.
To learn more about Texas A&M’s Disaster Day mass casualty simulation training, visit here.
Below, I interview Erin Sullivan, BSN, RN, CEN, about her experiences in critical care. She recently switched her specialty from the emergency nursing to intensive care, and shares her reflections, challenges, and some advice.
What is your background in nursing?
I graduated as a second degree nursing student from George Washington University in 2014. I was a new graduate nurse in the emergency department (ED) for about two years before I switched to the MICU (medical intensive care unit) in March 2016.
When did you decide to change specialty, and why?
I decided to switch to the ICU about 18 months into working in the ED. At the time, I was considering applying to some graduate school programs that required ICU experience as a prerequisite, so I made the switch to broaden my experience and learn a new skill set.
What do you do now and what is your job/where?
I’m working in the MICU at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. I also still work per diem in an ED.
What was challenging about the transition to the ICU?
The biggest challenge I had in transitioning from emergency nursing to the ICU was learning how to think like an ICU nurse. There are jokes in nursing that the two types of nurses are “wired differently.” In the ED, the goal is to quickly assess, diagnose, and stabilize patients, and then to move them out to an appropriate level of care as soon as possible. In the ICU, the goals for the patient are more long term, and you have to consider a bigger picture and a larger scope than I would in the ED. It’s a completely different way of thinking, organizing, and prioritizing patient care.
What do you miss most from ER nursing?
The thing I miss most about the ED is the teamwork. I don’t know that I can quite explain the team aspect of ER nursing to someone who’s never experienced it, but there is a special camaraderie that forms between all of your coworkers. Whether it’s one of the best shifts or the worst shift ever, your fellow coworkers join together to make sure we all come out on the other side. I also miss the organized chaos that is the ED, and the anticipation of never knowing what is coming through the door next.
What do you enjoy most about the ICU?
Being in the ICU, I really enjoy being able to watch a patient progress from being critically ill to becoming well enough to leave the unit. Unlike the ED, many times you have a patient three or four shifts in a row, so you can get to know the patients in a way I never got to in the ED.
What do you want to do with your nursing career moving forward?
I’m not sure what the next step is in my career. One of the reasons I chose nursing was because there are so many different options in what you can do. For now, I’m enjoying working in the MICU and picking up in the ED every now and again to get my adrenaline fix. I’m fairly certain though that I’ll find myself back in school pursuing a graduate degree in nursing at some point.
What tips or advice do you have for someone who wants to change their specialty?
My biggest advice for anyone considering switching their specialty is just to do it. As nurses we learn new things everyday, and we shouldn’t be intimidated or scared of the challenges that come with switching specialties!
That said, do your research. Can you handle the stress of a new job right now? Are you adaptable and a quick learner? Do you get along well with new people? These are all considerations before jumping into a new specialty. For me, I was still within the broader scope of critical care. If you’re completely changing specialties, from adults to pediatrics, or from med-surg to labor and delivery, make sure you talk to people who are in that field and that it seems like the right fit for you. But remember, you can always go back!