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.
Our Nurse of the Week is Emma Strong, a University of Georgia (UGA) nursing student who pulled over to help the victims of a vehicle crash. Strong was assisted by two others, Vicki Bishop and Michael Derricotte, and all three citizens of Athens, GA were later recognized for their lifesaving efforts.
After two vehicles engaged in a head-on collision that resulted in one of the vehicles catching fire and a child who had stopped breathing, Strong and the others knew they had witnessed a very serious accident. Bishop, a nurse, began performing CPR on the child until emergency services arrived while Derricotte, a husband and father, pulled the injured driver out of the inflamed vehicle. Strong jumped in to help jam open a car door to rescue the people inside.
Strong is also CPR certified and recalls that the main thing running through her mind at the scene was thankfulness for her CPR training. She tells RedandBlack.com, “I knew that they needed my help, so I brushed my fear aside and sprang into action.”
Following the incident, Strong, Bishop, and Derricotte were all recognized by the mayor and the local fire and emergency services chief. Members of a community are often the first ones to arrive at the scene of an emergency, and they deserve recognition for the lifesaving acts they perform while waiting for emergency services to arrive.
To learn more about UGA nursing student Emma Strong’s experience helping the victims of a vehicle crash, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Navy Lt. Cmdr. Erika Schilling, a military nurse midwife who used her medical training to help save a man’s life during a Washington State Ferry trip. Schilling had spent the day at a museum with her two sons and was on the return trip home when she overheard another passenger frantically telling someone that a passenger needed immediate medical attention. She jumped to attention, performing lifesaving CPR on a complete stranger.
“I just happened to be there and heard that help was needed. I heard her on the phone saying, ‘This is an emergency.’ My ears went up.”
When Schilling was brought to the ill passenger, he was slumped over and didn’t appear to be breathing. Schilling immediately moved him onto the floor and began performing CPR while another passenger retrieved an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). She shared CPR duties with another passenger trained in basic life support skills for 14 minutes until the ferry docked and emergency medical responders took over, transporting the man to a nearby medical center.
Schilling is a military nurse midwife at Naval Hospital Bremerton in Washington state. She credits her 21 years of Navy and Nurse Corps training for allowing her to save a stranger’s life on a normal ferry ride while off duty. Schilling tells the Department of Defense, “I just happened to be there and heard that help was needed. I heard her on the phone saying, ‘This is an emergency.’ My ears went up.”
Once the man was safely in the hands of emergency medical responders, Schilling found out that the man and his wife were visiting the area. Schilling stayed with his wife and drove her from the ferry to the hospital. The man is reported to be safely recovering at home following the incident.
Schilling has since been awarded the Life Ring Award from Washington State Ferry, a certificate usually reserved for employees who respond to life-and-death emergencies or perform rescues. To learn more about Schilling’s lifesaving efforts, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Erin Williamson, a nurse practitioner for MedNorth Health Center in Wilmington, NC, who has dedicated his career to helping people who have no other health care options. As the seventh of eight children in his family, Williamson experienced what it’s like for your income to dictate your access to quality health care.
With six older sisters and one younger brother, Williamson came to understand the hardships that come with raising a large family, but he loved growing up in a big family and decided to help others in similar situations. He started taking health occupations classes in high school and graduated with a Nursing Assistant certificate then joined the workforce straight away, which was an important goal after the hardships his family faced when he was a child.
Williamson tells StarNewsOnline.com, “I wanted to be a nurse practitioner serving medically underserved people. Ideally, lower-income people who have limited access to health care. It is the dream job that I’ve had since I was 16. Mainly because growing up poor we got to learn what it was like to have limited access to good health care. You don’t know how that feels unless you are in that situation where you’re treated differently.”
Williamson’s first health care job after high school was at a nursing center where he worked the midnight shift and later met his wife, Rachel. The couple later moved so that Williamson could attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He graduated in 2004 with a degree in nursing, then moved back to Wilmington where he took a job on the adult inpatient surgical floor with New Hanover Regional Medical Center for five years while he worked on his master’s in nursing at University of North Carolina Wilmington.
At the end of his master’s studies, Williamson chose to complete his clinical training at MedNorth Health Center ,which receives federal grant funds from the US Department of Health and Human Services to provide primary and preventive health care services to medically underserved populations. Patients at the health center receive service regardless of their ability to pay with services designed to cover prenatal, pediatric, adolescent, adult, and geriatric life cycles.
Williamson knew immediately that it was the right place for him and he tells StarNewsOnline.com, “I liked the community health center because being downtown we get an interesting mix of homeless people, professors, other professionals that work downtown, and a lot of people who have no other place to go for healthcare.”
After completing his master’s degree in nursing in 2009, Williamson went straight from being a student to being a nurse practitioner at MedNorth where he has remained since. To learn more about Williamson’s path to becoming a nurse practitioner and helping the underserved find access to quality healthcare, visit here.
Our Nurses of the Week are Kyle Cook, 53, and Carla Saunders, 51, neonatal nurse practitioners at a children’s hospital in Knoxville, TN. After decades spent caring for infants, these two nurses recognized a major problem when they had six babies in the nursery at once suffering from substance withdrawal. After looking to experts for answers on how to treat these delicate patients, they discovered that no one yet had the answers, and became the experts themselves.
It was 2010 when Cook and Saunders began to see the effects of the opioid crisis themselves. The first time they realized that they had a problem was when they had six babies suffering at once, but that number quickly began to grow. Cook, 53, tells NPR.org:
“We couldn’t fix it; we couldn’t make these babies better. Little did we know that was the tip of the iceberg. We had 10, and then 15, and then, at one point, 37 babies in the NICU that were withdrawing. We were bursting at the seams.”
Unprepared and short-staffed, they knew they needed to find a new solution because their current practice wasn’t helping the inconsolable infants they were attempting to treat. They worked at a small children’s hospital, but knew that the problem they were facing was a representation of a greater substance abuse problem happening all over the US.
When they called across the country looking for experts to advise them on how to treat these special patients, they discovered that nobody had the answers. They were left to find the answers themselves, and wound up helping to establish one of the first treatment protocols for babies exposed to opioids and a program connecting mothers with treatment and therapy options.
To learn more about Cook and Saunders’ experience treating babies suffering from opioid withdrawal, listen to the full podcast below: