Mission Moment: Nurse heroes saving a life out in the community

When nurses Kimberly Fore and Cindy Sacra agreed to staff the first aid booth at the recent Health Insurance Enrollment & Family Fun Festival in early December, they figured they might help with the small injuries that can come along with community running events.

With three races that morning, including nearly 1,000 girls and their running buddies doing a 5k through Girls on the Run, they figured it would be the usual. Scrapes. Maybe a blister. At worst, a turned ankle.

So in that split second when they heard there was a runner down during a 1-mile running event for men, they thought maybe they’d be patching up a skinned knee.

Fore, the director of TMC Hospice, started loping out to the scene. A passing runner told her it was serious. She broke into a sprint and found the runner in the throes of a serious medical event.

Sacra, the Clinical Informatics team lead, was right behind her, carrying medical supplies.

The two, along with TMCOne front desk service representative Lauren Barnhart, whose son was participating in the race, provided CPR until medics arrived.

In large part because of the speedy reaction of the TMC staff member, the man was revived and taken to the hospital.

While others at the festival were in awe of the heroic work that unfolded before them, Fore and Sacra afterward brushed off any adulation. “We’re nurses. This is what we do,” Fore said. Sacra agreed. “When we have an opportunity to help someone in need, we are always going to respond.”

Barnhart agreed that help was just instinctive. “It was my first reaction to help this gentleman. In the moment I was doing what I do best. It is so rewarding to know I helped save someone’s grandpa, uncle, brother, dad or son.”

But for others, it was a moment that crystallized TMC’s mission.

“Our mission is to provide exceptional health care with compassion. That was on display on this day and I am humbled to work with amazing people who serve our community every day,” said Julia Strange, TMC’s vice president of Community Benefit.

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we will share an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.

Temps are rising and the pool is beckoning – do you know your water safety?

Pool Safety 3Is it hot enough yet? With Tucson temperatures exceeding 115 degrees for three straight days, many families will be heading for the pool this weekend.

It’s no surprise why swimming is a summer favorite. Parents get a chance to cool-off, kids max out on fun and families make memories.

With the summertime exuberance of visiting, splashing and playing, it can be easy for all to forget important safety rules. This is serious because Arizona has the second highest number of child drownings in the United States.

Child drowning is tragic but preventable. Safe Kids Pima County Coordinator Jessica Mitchell works with community partners to provide helpful tips and education to prevent childhood drowning. She provided us important water safety standards every
parent should know.

It’s as easy as ABC

A = Adult supervision B = Barriers around pools, spas and hot tubs C = Coast Guard approved life vest and life-saving CPR classes

My kids love playing in the pool – what are the things to watch out for?

  • Active supervision is a must. Provide active supervision without any distractions – even if other adults are present and many kids are in the pool. They call drowning the “silent killer” because a drowning child can’t call for help.
  • Infants and toddlers should stay within an arm’s reach of an adult.
  • Don’t rely on swimming aids such as water wings and pool noodles. They are fun, but may not prevent drowning.
  • When finished, remove all toys from the pool. This can tempt children to go for the toys later, increasing the risk of them falling in and drowning.
  • Barriers should be in place to keep children from entering the pool on their own. Alarms on doors and pool fences with self-closing gates also helps to keep kids safe.
  • Always keep a phone nearby so that you can call 911 in the case of an emergency.
  • Empty kiddie pools and turn them upside down when finished. Tragedies have happened in just a few inches of water.

Pool Safety 2
What swimming rules should I set for my children?

  • Only swim if an adult is a present.
  • Do not dive in shallow areas of the pool (or the entire pool if it is not deep enough for diving).
  • Don’t push or jump on others.
  • Don’t go swimming during thunder/lightning storms.

My kids have already taken swimming lessons, so I probably don’t need to watch them as much, right?

While we encourage swimming lessons, children should not be swimming alone even if they are good swimmers. It takes multiple lessons before a child learns how to swim effectively and even then, there should still be active supervision by an adult.

How do I rescue a child I think might be drowning?

  • Take the child out of the water
  • If you are alone, call 911 and begin CPR. Starting CPR immediately is the most important thing you can do to prevent a child from dying.
  • If you are not alone, begin CPR and ask someone to call 911.
  • Check for breathing and responsiveness. Place your ear near the child’s mouth and nose to see if you feel air on your cheek? Determine if the child’s chest is moving and call the child’s name to see if he or she responds.

Should I be CPR certified?

Anyone who routinely supervises children around water should get CPR certified. The certification courses are provided by many community organizations, including the American Red Cross.

It sounds like there is a lot to prepare for – can the water still be safe and fun for my family?

Absolutely! Swimming can be great family fun. Make sure you take the necessary precautions, always supervise swimming children and that someone in the family has taken CPR classes.

Visit our website for more safety tips and information.



Teenager’s heroic efforts save a fellow student’s life

October 15 was just an ordinary day at University High School until something extraordinary happened.  The marching band was taking a break from a rehearsal when they all lined up for dinner.  Suddenly Chris Miller, a sophomore, collapsed and started seizing.

Everyone froze.  A circle formed around him.  All Erika Yee, a junior, remembers hearing is, “Does anyone know CPR?” 

She did.

In fact, it was very fresh in her mind.  Just four months prior, Erika attended Camp Fury, a Girl Scouts firefighting camp in which she learned compression-only CPR.

Erika admits she didn’t really think about what was happening.  She just sprang into action.  “I raced over to him, and checked for a pulse.  I didn’t feel anything.  He had all the signs of cardiac arrest.”  Erika started chest compressions immediately – a move that ultimately saved his life. 

Janet Studley, a parent volunteer who spent time as a nurse, monitored Chris for a heartbeat, and kept his airway open while Erika continued to pump his chest.  “I was doing compressions for about three minutes, but it felt like 20 minutes,” she recalls.  “Paramedics got there, and took over.  It wasn’t until after Chris was on his way to the hospital that everything really started to sink in.” 

Chris was rushed to TMC, where he remained for the first two days of his treatment.  “When people told me what happened, I was just so grateful to be alive,” he says.

To this day, doctors can’t fully explain why Chris’ heart did what it did.  In the event it happens again, though, a defibrillator that was surgically inserted in his chest will shock his heart into beating again.

Chris says his outlook on life has changed since that day:  “I truly appreciate every day now.  It’s kept me motivated to keep doing what I’m doing.”

The experience has also been life-changing for Erika, who grew up wanting to be a dermatologist.  Her aspiration now?  To become a paramedic.  She says, “The medics who came on scene said if Chris hadn’t gotten those chest compressions, he likely wouldn’t have survived.  I am so grateful for what I learned in Girl Scouts at Camp Fury.  I’m so glad that I have these life-saving skills.”

Debbie Rich, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, says what Erika did is right in alignment with who she is as a person.  “I am so thankful that she had the leadership skills to take charge of the situation, and she knew what to do.  She told me that the reason she could handle that was because she’s a Girl Scout, and that’s what Girl Scouts do.  I think the Camp Fury experience gave her the skills, and added to her confidence, but I think she is just wired that way because she’s been a Girl Scout since she was 5 years old,” says Rich.

erika yee“I didn’t think what I did was really a big deal, but a lot of people did,” Erika says. 

City of Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild recognized Erika with a copper plaque for her heroic efforts.

How did Chris’ parents thank the young woman who saved his life?

“We just hugged her, and cried, and said ‘thank you.’  We are just so glad she was there.  We just can’t thank her enough.  I’m really glad she is getting recognized,“ says Sarah Ann Miller, Chris’ mom. 

To see the story that appeared in the Arizona Daily Star, click here.  
For more information on the Girl Scout’s Camp Fury, click here.
For a video on how to perform compression only CPR, click here.

Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461