Special to NurseZone
Nurses often perform lifesaving acts as a part of their daily work. But there are times when nurses go above, beyond and outside their work duties to save a life. In these instances they become nurse heroes.
The American Red Cross and Nursing Spectrum partnered to celebrate the lifesaving acts of 10 “nurse heroes” from around the country at a Nurse Hero Recognition ceremony at the American Red Cross Headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 3.
The Nurse Hero award is presented biannually to nurses who saved or attempted to save lives under adverse, nonwork conditions. This year’s recipients performed lifesaving actions across the nation and around the world—including a Marine currently stationed in Iraq.
Nominated by their colleagues, families, friends and those they rescued, the 2004 Nurse Heroes are:
Mary Evans, LPN, Hickory, Mississippi
Evans ran into the smoke- and fire-filled house of her pregnant niece, in an attempt to save her four grandnieces and nephews, ages 2-7, who were trapped in a back bedroom. Crawling through a broken window into intense heat and black smoke, she managed to find and pull to safety three of the young children.
Deborah Johnson, RN, Abita Springs, Louisiana
Tulane University Hospital and Clinic
Caught in a Mardi Gras crowd where a group of teenagers fired gunshots, Johnson was knocked to the ground and injured from the ensuing panic. When four people in the crowd were hit by gunfire, Johnson got down on her hands and knees and administered first aid and comfort to each shooting victim. Three of the four people lived, thanks in large part to Johnson’s efforts.
Debra G. Watkins, RN, Dayton, Ohio
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Risking her life to save two strangers involved in a horrific accident involving two burning pick-up trucks, Watkins coordinated evacuation of the less-injured accident victims. Then, with the help of a medical student, she pulled a husband and wife to safety, performing CPR on the woman until a care flight team arrived.
Staff Sergeant Charles Peworski, RN, Phoenix, Arizona
Mayo Clinic Hospital
In April 2003 Staff Sergeant Peworski and 12 other Marines were injured in a sandstorm-induced multi-vehicle accident in Iraq. He immediately found and triaged three seriously injured victims, treating them for shock and multiple head, neck and limb injuries. Miraculously, he did it all with one hand due to his own broken arm. He later received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Heroic Achievement.
Evelyn Personeus, RN, River Vale, New Jersey
Bergen Regional Medical Center
Jolted from a sound sleep, Personeus ran outside to find that a car crashed into her front-yard tree. Epitomizing why nurses are always “on” even when they’re off duty, Personeus went into response mode as she remained at the victim’s side to keep his airways open until the fire from the crash was out and he was freed from the wreckage.
Laurie Fox, RN, Enfield, New Hampshire
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
Fox ran to the aid of a young motorcyclist whom she witnessed being thrown onto the pavement, left unconscious and not breathing, following a high-impact collision with an SUV. She removed him from the road, stabilized his neck and began CPR, staying with him until help arrived. To all concerned, she saved his life.
Mary Pennington, RN, Angier, North Carolina
Wake Medical Center
Pennington literally breathed life back into her own daughter after an elderly driver ran a stop sign and crashed into the passenger side of Pennington’s car with her 13-year-old son in the front seat and 11-year-old daughter Caitlin in the back. Despite her own injuries, Pennington managed to resuscitate Caitlin, whose lungs had collapsed, filling her mouth with blood. She remained unconscious for seven days. To read more about Pennington and her daughter’s recovery, click
Theresa Miklusicak, RN, Battle Creek, Michigan
Miklusicak extricated four passengers, including two small children, from a smoking SUV that flipped over in front of her on the highway. Despite the urgings of onlookers to escape the potentially explosive vehicle, she persevered until all four passengers were out of danger–including the driver, whose laceration she put direct pressure on using her hand until paramedics arrived.
Joanna Kenney, RN, Lake in the Hills, Illinois
Provena Home Care, Village Green of Elgin
Kenney saved the life of a sheet metal repairman on site at her work facility, who had been struck by lightning and caught fire. Rescuing him first in the pouring rain from a small, wood-framed balcony under construction, she and a colleague administered CPR for over 10 minutes until paramedics arrived.
Janet Hansraj, RN, Rochelle Park, New Jersey
Pascack Valley Hospital
Instinctively stopping at the scene of an overturned vehicle that was leaking gas, Hansraj immediately came to the aid of the near-lifeless 18-year-old victim who was pinned in the vehicle. Directing others to extricate him while she held his head, she stabilized the victim and kept him breathing until paramedics arrived.
Congratulations to these heroic nurses and all nurses who, with care and compassion, help the lives of patients every day.
For more information, visit the American Red Cross Web site.
Source: American Red Cross
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