Teamwork that saves lives
September 10, 2022
We tend to relate heroism to extraordinary situations. But the truth is that heroes often arise from ordinary life. In early June, the ProHealth Physicians team became a squad of real-life heroes.
"It was a typical day," said Dianna Tack, administrative lead.
"I was sitting up front with my staff discussing a patient when we heard loud noises and screaming. As we were heading to the front to check, a family rushed in, carrying a limp, unresponsive toddler boy. They were screaming he wasn't breathing," recalled Tack.
The family was from out of town. They were driving to a local pediatrician for a check-up. During the drive, the child became unresponsive. They had called 911, but they were not familiar with the area. Without directions, responders were unable to find them.
Taking quick action
Jennifer Colon, administrative lead, was checking in patients when she heard screaming. She called 911 and urged one of her co-workers to get a clinician.
"I remember there was a lot of screaming and crying. But we all came together and helped where it was needed," Colon said.
Krystal Rodriguez, associate patient care coordinator, left her post at the check-out desk and rushed to get a nurse. In the meantime, one of the medical assistants notified a nurse, who ran to the waiting room to help the young boy.
Niesha Whitehead, medical receptionist, was 15 minutes into her lunch break when she heard the commotion.
"I walked to the front of the office," Whitehead said. "Someone was screaming 'mi hijo, mi hijo' ('my son, my son' in Spanish). A lady was walking around with a child in her arms. She was asking for someone to help."
"I didn't know exactly what was going on. I pressed the emergency button, as one of my co-workers was on the phone with 911," Whitehead added.
"Then, someone yelled if anyone knew Spanish. I walked over to see if I could help with the interpretation. Maybe help calm the situation," said Whitehead.
Biancha Barton-Faucher, advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), was with a patient when she learned of the emergency.
"I stopped what I was doing and ran out of the room," said Barton-Faucher. "When I arrived, the baby was having a seizure. I took him and placed him on the ground, on his side, while securing his head. I realized he was extremely hot. I asked for cold cloths and undressed him."
Dr. Shilpa Rajashekar soon joined in caring for the child after being alerted by Marissa Venturo, licensed practice nurse (LPN).
"The child was laying on the floor with good airways, but I could not get a good pulse. We started chest compressions. Biancha was counting them. Luckily for us, the child started to cry after the first set. I felt a sigh of relief," said Dr. Rajashekar.
Comforting the family
As things unfolded, Dianna Tack was shaken by the fear she saw in the boy's mother.
"I pulled her into a bear hug. I held her tight. I was trying to console her as the staff was tending to the child. I just wanted her child to be OK. I was telling her we were doing everything we could. Silently, I was praying for the boy," said Tack.
Other teammates helped where it was needed. Ainsley Palmisano, practice manager, guided emergency staff as they arrived at the building. Jelitza Mercado, Katje Thompson and many others also gave their support.
The family included another young child. Linda Leigh, administrative lead, took it upon herself to help him.
"Once I saw the distraught family, I went over to the other child," said Leigh. "I helped him into a chair and poured him a small glass of water. I was smiling to reassure him it was OK. My co-worker, Jodi Roderick, and I took the child somewhere calmer."
"My years of being a kindergarten and first grade teacher kicked in and I took his little hand. I got a few pieces of paper, markers, and began drawing. It was a great distraction. He could still hear his mom. But the family could see that he was doing OK," Leigh added.
A Joyous moment
The previously unresponsive child was stabilized and taken to an exam room. Soon after, a pediatrician and emergency medical services arrived. The boy was assessed and received medicine to lower his fever.
An ambulance took him to the local children's hospital, where he was sent home the next day.
Dr. Rajashekar added, "I was terrified and extremely anxious. Being a mother of two, I wanted to make sure we did everything possible to help the child. I was afraid, but after the CPR was done, to hear the crying baby was a most joyous moment for me."
Teamwork and training
Many of the team members agree that two things that helped them that day:
- CPR training
"I am proud of our staff," said Kim Kasparian, practice manager. "For working together as a team. For saving a life. Such heroes. I can't stop telling them that. I also praise ProHealth for making CPR a priority for our clinical staff."
"This was not a one-man show," said Dr. Rajashekar. "We need a team to work together to save lives. This incident brought our team together, so thanks to everyone who helped to make the child better. I am thankful to ProHealth for retraining us with CPR classes."
Dr. Rajashekar continued, "The [CPR] training is essential. Having a trained staff is integral in helping our patients and the community."
Barton-Faucher added, "The mother and son can share more memories together. It was so nice to see mom go from crying hysterically to thanking God. My thoughts are: well done team.”