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Unlikely First Responders
How three fast-thinking employees morphed into heroes.


Maria Amador, Kermitt Wilson and Anna Atkins.
From left, Maria Amador, Kermitt Wilson and Anna Atkins.

When a mother walked into the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center clutching her limp 19-month-old boy to her chest and screaming for help, registration staff jumped into action. Patient services coordinator Maria Amador immediately called for an adult code team and a pediatric rapid response team. Meanwhile, registration supervisor Anna Atkins took the child from his mother’s arms, placed him on a nearby counter and began working to restart his heart.

Kermitt Wilson was in a meeting down the hallway when he heard the mother’s desperate cries. “You could definitely tell something serious was going on,” says Wilson, an express testing supervisor. He walked out of the meeting, saw the boy and immediately stepped in to help, doing chest compressions as Atkins performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Other caregivers and staff arrived, grabbing the pediatric code cart, setting up a monitor and quickly intubating the child. The child started to breathe and his pulse began to come back, Wilson says, although it was fading in and out. The JHOC code team arrived three minutes after being called, and the rapid response team reached the scene soon after. The boy was transported to the ICU and survived, although he died several months later of unrelated causes.

This rescue was truly a team effort, but for their quick responses Amador, Atkins and Wilson received Johns Hopkins Safety Stars. This Hopkins Hospital award program, started last winter, recognizes employees and faculty whose deeds have prevented patient harm and identified hazards.

This event, which occurred in late March, wasn’t the first major emergency to occur in the Outpatient Center, but it was the first to take place since a program went into effect to help the center better prepare for patients who go into cardiac arrest. Several months earlier, most of the registration staff received CPR and first responder training. Center managers added a pediatric code cart—containing endotracheal tubes, medications and other supplies suited to a small child—to a storage room near the entrance where they store a similar cart for adults.
Atkins and Wilson both have known CPR for years. Atkins says she’d like to see more staff, such as security workers, be trained in the skill as well.

Amador praises her co-workers’ efforts. “We don’t know how long the boy wasn’t breathing before he came in,” she says. “But my colleagues knew just what to do during those precious seconds.”

–Jamie Manfuso



Johns Hopkins Medicine

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