| Rescue 911
Helping those in need comes naturally to employees at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. But last winter, several went way beyond the call of duty, acting instinctively to avert disaster. Here are their stories.
Veteran critical care nurse Charlotte Payne Towers never likes to be late, and on the morning of Feb. 28 she was approaching the Wolfe Street entrance of Hopkins Hospital to start her 7 a.m. shift with 15 minutes to spare.
Suddenly, she saw a woman bolt from a car. Waving excitedly for help, the middle-aged woman pointed to her daughter in the back seat. She was giving birth. As the dad rushed through the front doors to find a wheelchair, Towers peered into the back of the car. There she could see the baby’s head crowning. Birth, she knew, was only minutes away.
All at once, Towers’ training and instincts—she’s a mother of five—kicked in. “Miraculously, everything came back to me.” She ordered the security guard to call a pediatric code and grab a stretcher. She climbed partway into the back seat and made the mother as comfortable as she could. She checked her vital signs.
Seconds later, a baby boy emerged. Towers turned the baby over to make sure his airway was unclogged. “Then I heard two lusty wails.”
Keeping a newborn warm is critical, Towers knew, so she took off her down coat and wrapped the baby in it. Glancing at her watch, she made a mental note of the time of birth: 6:50 a.m. She had nothing she could use to cut the umbilical cord, but the OB nurses, she had learned, were on their way.
The crash cart—and the baby’s father—arrived immediately after the birth.” Everyone present, all the passersby in the Wolfe Street Circle, were overjoyed. It was the most wonderful thing to be a part of,” says Towers. “And the baby seemed strong and healthy.”
Armed with a stack of warm blankets, the OB nurses whisked the newborn and mother away. By 6:55, everyone was gone. Towers was on the job by 7.
Ever have one of those days? You know, the kind where one minute you’re on top of the world, the next minute, the world—or something else—comes crashing down on you? Loreen Senior’s been there.
Two months ago, while preparing to X-ray a patient’s mouth in the dental clinic on Blalock 2, Senior heard her name announced on the radio. Learning she’d won two plane tickets to any destination in the United States, the soft-spoken dental assistant was overjoyed.
Not five minutes later, as she was leaving the dental clinic treatment room to switch on radiation, Senior noticed that the X-ray unit, with its long, articulated arm—covered in lead and extremely heavy—was dismounting from the wall and heading straight toward the patient’s face. Senior swooped back into the room, shielded the patient with her body and caught the falling unit. Thanks to her intervention, the machine only brushed the tip of the patient’s nose and bumped his upper lip.
Senior fared worse, suffering a sprained arm. She was treated at an occupational injury clinic and sent home. But she has no regrets. “The patient was in my charge. It was instinctive, the right thing to do,” she says. “
The incorrectly mounted X-ray unit, part of a major renovation last year, was immediately “decommissioned” and removed the next day by the vendor. It was reinstalled properly, and the others were carefully checked.
“An experience like this makes you realize that anything can happen. I’m definitely more alert since then,” says Senior, who has earned hero status in Dentistry and Oral Surgery. “If Loreen had not been paying attention and acted as she did,” observes senior dentist Bill Henderson, “our patient would probably now have broken facial bones. We’re so proud to have Loreen on our team.”
By early evening on March 1, heavy winds and rain had impaired several traffic lights, including one at Fayette and Wolfe, which went into flashing mode. From his corner booth, Corporate Security protective services officer Lennie Branch kept a close watch on the streets, though it was hard to see amid darkness and steady rain.
Suddenly, at about 6:30 p.m., Branch heard a thud. Seconds later, he spotted a woman lying in the middle of the street. The car that hit her pulled over, but directly behind it was another vehicle coming fast. Knowing the driver probably hadn’t seen what had just transpired, Branch jumped in front of the oncoming car, shielding the victim, but not before the car clipped her leg.
Branch called for an ambulance and asked Security to send support, giving a description of the two cars he had pulled over. The victim was conscious but seriously injured.
In his nine years on the job, Branch has seen his share of accidents but never one involving a pedestrian. Nor had he ever jumped in front of a car to protect someone. Looking back, Branch didn’t consider that he was putting himself at risk. “The lady in the street needed help. I just did what I had to do. She was in a lot of pain.”
When Tim Connolly, senior director of Corporate Security, heard the news, he knew immediately that Branch deserved a citation. “We’re trained to protect others,” observes Connolly, “but during a crisis, not everyone is willing to put himself in that kind of danger. Lennie jumped right in to protect this woman.”