Our Nurse of the Week is Debbie Bowerman, an ER nurse who was working at Sunrise Hospital the night of the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting in Las Vegas last fall. Following that traumatic experience, Bowerman developed a habit of always scanning public spaces for the nearest emergency exits, preparing a plan for the fastest way out.
Talking about her habit of walking herself through escape plans when she’s at public events, Bowerman tells SLTrib.com, “I don’t do these things because I live in fear. I do them because I have come face to face with the reality of: This can happen anywhere.”
Bowerman wasn’t at the festival, but she witnessed the carnage firsthand while working in the emergency room which took in about 200 patients in the hours following the shooting. That night, Bowerman was working in the ambulance bay, the first person to assess each gunshot victim as they arrived at the hospital. She recalls being left on her own to pull patients out of ambulances, police cars, Ubers, taxis, and pickup trucks arriving with multiple people inside each of them.
After making it through her shift, Bowerman struggled to sleep for days afterward. She couldn’t stop thinking about the patients she had treated and reflecting on how the experience had affected her and her fellow medical professionals.
However, the experience reinforced to Bowerman that she’s meant to be an ER nurse. Following that experience, Bowerman plans to seek out more training on mass casualty situations and self-healing techniques to help advocate for her fellow nurses and medical professionals.
To learn more about Bowerman’s experience working in the ER the night of the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting in Las Vegas, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Krista Ryan, a nurse in the heart attack unit at Advocate Christ Medical Center, who was working out at her local gym when she saw a man fall off his treadmill. She has been credited with saving the man’s life, who says he is grateful to be alive after suffering a heart attack.
Ryan saw Henry Gnaidek, 66, lying motionless on the floor while his treadmill continued spinning. She knew something was seriously wrong when he didn’t get up after a few moments. Ryan checked for a pulse and couldn’t find one, so she immediately started CPR and called for someone to find an AED.
After hooking Gnaidek up to an AED machine, he quickly regained consciousness a few minutes later. Gnaidek was transported to the hospital where his doctors found two blocked arteries caused by coronary artery disease.
Gnaidek had undergone heart bypass surgery last fall due to coronary artery disease and his doctors thought his heart was in the clear until he collapsed at the gym. He had a second surgical procedure to insert a stent into his heart to open the blockage, but did not suffer any permanent damage due to the incident.
To learn more about Ryan’s lifesaving acts after seeing a man suffer a heart attack and fall off his treadmill at the gym, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Jessica Leja, an oncology nurse at DuPage Medical Group in Illinois, who wants to give her never-worn wedding dress to a cancer patient or survivor. Leja believes in finding silver linings in the worst of circumstances, so now that her own wedding has been called off, she wants to turn something sad into something beautiful.
As an oncology nurse, Leja understands how cancer can interrupt your life in messy, painful, and expensive ways. Sometimes it can even ruin plans and delay big events like a wedding day, which is why Leja wants to gift her wedding gown to a woman who is battling cancer or who has survived it.
Leja tells ChicagoTribune.com, “My heroes are cancer patients: the fighters, the survivors, and the taken. The admiration I have for them is beyond words…This dress wasn’t made for me. It was made for someone else. And I have to find her.”
After beginning her career in geriatrics, several of Leja’s own relatives were diagnosed with cancer, including her dad. Leja feels fortunate to have been able to care for her dad who was diagnosed and lost his battle to metastatic kidney cancer at 55 years old.
Shortly after his passing, she received a phone call about an oncology nursing position. Leja immediately felt at home during her interview and was offered the job on the spot, which she accepted without hesitation.
Now she hopes to give back to the community she serves in a different way: by gifting her wedding gown free of charge to an engaged or soon-to-be engaged woman who is battling cancer or who has survived it.
To learn more about Jessica Leja’s background as an oncology nurse and her mission to gift her never-worn wedding gown to a cancer patient or survivor, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Amber Estupinian, a 21-year-old nurse technician at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, a health care facility that took in patients from the Santa Fe High School shooting. Estupinian is an aspiring nurse who shared her experiences from that day with Youth Radio.
“At the end of the day, it made me feel good that I could actually provide some kind of service to these families.”
When Estupinian’s manager texted her to ask if she could come in after working four days in a row, she immediately responded “no.” However, she began to see the news of the shooting on social media and realized that the tragedy had struck close to home this time. Estupinian knew some of the students might be arriving at her hospital so she went in to help.
During her shift, Estupinian went to drop off a blood sample in the lab. She passed by the ER waiting room where families were waiting to see if their children and loved ones were okay. Estupinian tells YouthRadio.org, “At the end of the day, it made me feel good that I could actually provide some kind of service to these families.”
Estupinian has been working at the medical center since early March and is slated to begin the nursing program at Houston Baptist University in August with a goal of becoming a registered nurse.
To read Youth Radio’s full interview with Estupinian about her experience working as a nurse technician when the victims of the Santa Fe shooting began arriving at the hospital, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Peggy Phillips, a retired registered school nurse who was aboard the damaged Southwest Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia last week following an engine failure. Phillips heroically rushed to the aid of critically injured passenger Jennifer Riordan who unfortunately lost her life.
Phillips recalled the terrifying incident to abc7NY, describing her efforts to save her fellow passenger. Passengers first heard a loud noise about 20 minutes into their flight, right before the plane began to shake. After an engine failure led to one the jet’s windows shattering, Riordan was partially pulled out of the airplane before two fellow passengers pulled her back in.
Hearing the commotion a few rows behind her, Phillips quickly responded after a passenger called for anyone who knew CPR. With the help of an EMT on board, Phillips performed CPR for more than 20 minutes until the pilot was able to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia.
Phillips tells abc7NY.com, “There are a lot of really thoughtful and heroic things that went on during the flight. I can honestly say I was very proud of everyone that was involved in this.”
She is grateful for the pilot, crew, and her fellow passengers who performed lifesaving acts that allowed the rest of those on board to make a safe emergency landing. To learn more about Phillips and the aid she provided to a critically injured passenger, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Sarah Sellers, a 26-year-old nurse anesthetist at Banner Health Center in Tucson, Arizona who became the runner-up in Monday’s 2018 Boston Marathon. Sellers quickly caught the attention of spectators who wondered who the runner-up was after she finished just four minutes behind Desiree Linden, the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years.
“I think my story probably resonates with a lot of people that work really hard and have big goals. I think it’s cool to show that sometimes, you can have a great day and things can pay off.”
Sellers had no idea she had placed second in the annual marathon until after she had crossed the finish line, a feat that hadn’t seemed possible prior to the race. The Boston Marathon was only the second marathon Sellers had ever run, the first being the Huntsville Marathon in Utah which she ran in September as a qualifier for Boston and won, but Sellers is a past endurance runner who ran well in college before being sidelined by an injury.
Training for the marathon required Sellers to run before and after 10-hour shifts as a full-time nurse. She tells the Boston Globe, “I didn’t even know it was a possibility. I was trying to ask officials what place I was in. I had no idea when I crossed the finish line.” Sellers then found herself waking up Tuesday morning to a packed schedule of news conferences and photo shoots to attend before her afternoon flight back to Tucson to make it to work Wednesday morning.
Many have asked if Sellers plans to leave her job to pursue running full-time but Sellers loves her work as a nurse anesthetist and has no intentions of giving it up for right now. When asked the same question by the Boston Globe, Sellers responded: “I think my story probably resonates with a lot of people that work really hard and have big goals. I think it’s cool to show that sometimes, you can have a great day and things can pay off.”
To learn more about nurse anesthetist Sarah Sellers, the shocking runner-up in Monday’s 2018 Boston Marathon, visit here.