A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reverting Back to Training

It had been a long day at the hospital, and rather than go straight home, I changed scrubs and found a comfortable stretcher to take a combat nap on. I was still pretty wiped out when a nurse turned the light on to commandeer my stretcher. I decided to drive home.

As I approached an elevated section on the divided highway, I noticed flashing blue and red lights on the opposite elevation. I pulled over and opened the hatch on the rear of my Cherokee. Still in it's spot was my black leather nursing bag. I grabbed it, pulled on some gloves, and went to see if I could help.

I passed several officers who surrounded a cursing and barefooted man, handcuffed prone at four points to a backboard on the ground. His feet were bloodied by broken glass. They were ignoring his profanity. I sprinted past a bloodied matronly woman in hysterics with an officer holding her away from the scene. Two conjoined vehicles were surrounded by firefighters, paramedics and policemen. The jaws of life was humming among the shouts. A paramedic saw me running forward in my green surgical scrubs carrying my nursing bag. He tapped the responder beside him on the shoulder. She looked around, and they all began to part like the Red Sea. This is not good, I thought.

"She's pregnant Doc," they said as I entered the fray.

"I'm not a doctor, but I'll try," I replied.

"Her water broke," I heard someone say.

Inside the crushed sedan was a woman with her knees pinned to the dashboard. She was in labor. Her mother had been transporting her to the local hospital where I worked. She was in labor.

Apparently, the handcuffed man had stolen a pick-up truck from a automobile dealership. In trying to evade the law, he had driven the wrong way onto the overpass. At the crest, he had smashed into the sedan at high speed. The smell of gasoline and antifreeze hung over the scene.

"She's going to have the baby before we can get her out Doc!"

"The hell she is! Ma'am, stop pushing. Keep that child inside you."

"I can't, it's twins......" she cried.

Sometimes when things just can't get worse, they do. I stretched my stethoscope forward to try to hear fetal heart tones above the rumble of the jaws of life. It was a futile effort, but it did have the effect of calming the trapped woman. "You will keep your babies inside," I told her. That's when her eyes rolled back and her body began to tremble. She was seizing.

"Get her valium," I heard somebody say.

"No! Get mag sulfate!" I commanded. As I drew up an intramuscular bolus of the stuff, a wave of trepidation washed over me. I was responding on labor and delivery instruction I had received a decade previously. I leaned into the vehicle, pulled the woman's butt cheek laterally, and slammed the 18 gauge needle I was given home.

I was pulled back as several firemen clambered onto the automobiles and began peeling the roof back like a sardine can. I watched as the woman's trembling subsided. "Just keep those babies inside....." I whispered.

I could do nothing further, so I went to check on the bloodied grandmother to be who had been driving her daughter to the hospital. She had superficial wounds and I pulled Kerlix from my bag to dress them. When I looked back to the wreck, the woman was being lifted to a stretcher. "Start a mag drip," I called out, as I went back to assist. The woman was loaded into the back of the waiting ambulance, and her mother into a police cruiser to follow her to the hospital. I was left at the scene of carnage with the police officers and firefighters. I looked over at the cursing man, still handcuffed prone to his backboard. An officer saw me looking at him.

"The son of a bitch tried to run away," he said.

"Am I needed for anything else?" I asked.

"Just your name. You work at the hospital?"


As I drove home in my greasy bloody green scrubs, I marveled at the human mind. I had delivered two babies previously. I had dealt with seizures. I had never done both simultaneously. The knowledge of magnesium sulfate had been stored away in some pigeon hole of my mind until it was needed. It had been passed on only in lecture, and perhaps, it had shown up on a test in nursing school. I no doubt studied it. I filed it away in my mind and forgot about it. Yet, when I needed it, it was there.

It has been said that in times of uncertain crisis, a man will not rise to the occasion, but will instead revert back to his level of training. Nursing students often feel overwhelmed with information during their training. At one time, I doubted that I could ever retain all that was shoved into my head in nursing school. After I saw two twins in the nursery the next day, I never doubted it again. You do what you can. You try.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice job. You made the world a better place than when you found it, and perhaps neutralized the results of that selfish act.

We need to find a way to get everyone doing things like you did. Can you imagine what our country would be like if everyone did what you did?

I'm proud of you.


5:21 AM  
Blogger Bob said...


6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear heaven, what a read. I think my heart dropped to my feet. Thank goodness for your training and presence of mind. You must follow up on the condition of the poor woman.

6:07 AM  
Blogger Katar Hol said...

Thank you for your service. In this apathetic world, afraid of helping because of our litigious society, it is good to see that one man can make a difference.

6:23 AM  
Blogger stbaguley said...

Attaboy. You know I was reading about sheepdogs in these blogs and some fine sentiments expressed for stern and crucial vocations...but then there are the rescue dogs. When they are needed it is tragic if they are absent. Mere violence is available to the untrained, skilled or not(accessible or not according to the person). Medical training though has to be acquired by human sweat and tears and late nights. You do good work. Thanks!

7:03 AM  
OpenID reflectoscope said...

Well done. Jim.

7:38 AM  
Blogger the pawnbroker said...


7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job. I started Nursing school, ran afoul of a Man-Hating instructor (1980-ish) got discouraged. Became a Corpsman. You just woke up old repressed memories. Do you think it would be too late for me to try Nursing again at age 50? (career crossroads time again)

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Bob@thenest said...

Good show, AD.

And if I may quote you, "It has been said that in times of uncertain crisis, a man will not rise to the occasion, but will instead revert back to his level of training."

That is a darned good reason also for *training* with firearms rather than just waiting for something to happen and expecting to instinctively react. Or so I've been telling myself and others for a long time now.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Brad_in_MA said...

My people call your action "doing a Mitzvah". B"H.

- Brad

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Bob@thenest said...

Good show.

And if I may quote you, "It has been said that in times of uncertain crisis, a man will not rise to the occasion, but will instead revert back to his level of training."

That is a darned good reason also for *training* with firearms rather than just waiting for something to happen and expecting to instinctively react. Or so I've been telling myself and others for a long time now.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Cowtown Cop said...

Good work. I have to admit that one of my greatest fear as a law enforcement officer is being stuck in a situation where I am forced to deliver a baby. I'm sure the officers on scene were glad to see someone who looked like they knew what to do.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Owen said...

Good job, I salute you sir.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Xav, I am relieved to hear that the twins survived, I do hope the mother did as well with no lasting damage to her legs. I can't say I feel that way about the scumsucker that almost killed them.

If there is an ethical way in which you can share a long term prognosis I would certainly like to know.

A few years back my nephew was the passenger in a Toyota pickup that was hit head on by a woman stoned out of her gourd on Xanax that her chief of surgery father supplied to her without a prescription (the bottle found in the wreckage had no label). The woman was driving on the wrong side of the divided highway, at night, with her lights off, at over 100 mph. She had been spotted and reported to the Mississippi Highway Patrol by several people prior to impact but they were unable to respond in time to stop her. My nephew had the engine of the truck in his lap. His legs and abdomen utterly crushed. After a agonizing two weeks, he finally died from his injuries. The woman survived hers. they were in adjoining beds in ICU of the hospital in which her father was the Chief of Surgery.

She was sentenced to probation. He and his friend were sentenced to a cold grave in Summit Mississippi.

9:57 AM  
OpenID dneylon said...

thanks for being there.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Esteve said...

My first grandchild was born November 26, a beutiful baby girl. I'm reading your account and tears are running down my face and dripping onto my keyboard. God bless you, Xavier.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless you.

That story is the very definition of Good Samaritan.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Bob Brennan said...

God bless you for not driving on, tired as you were.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous ditto said...

Nice work!

11:25 AM  
Blogger Yabusame said...

My girl is a nurse too... I'm proud of her everyday.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous perpster said...

Great Save! Maybe you're not a doctor, but I suspect you do play one on TV. ;-)

11:43 AM  
Blogger Ambulance Driver said...

Good on you, Xavier.

I'll bet a few medics I know were glad you showed up on the scene.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Pawpaw said...

Well done, sir.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous DonWorsham said...


11:54 AM  
Blogger JD said...

Congrats on a job well done!

I think you have maxed out the make a difference in the world meter on that story. . . .

12:01 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Wow - great story to read sir. Thank you for sharing it with us, and you are absolutely right on the little details that hide away until we need them.

Thanks for what you did - two children and their mother may never realize it, but it was a wonderful act.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Travlin said...

Great job Xav, and a terrific story well told.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous OrangeNeckInNY said...


1:02 PM  
Anonymous Billy Budd said...

A positive story in a negative world. Thank you for sharing that. It is amazing what stored information will come to the surface when needed. A little divine intervention maybe?

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the IM dose of Mag Sulfate for seizures during labor?

1:49 PM  
Blogger Freddyboomboom said...

Bravo Zulu!!!!

Every day, in many ways, you make this world a better place to live in.

Probably the least of these are the stories and insights you share, but they are Great Works as well.

Thank you for being the man you are.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Matt G said...

We had two run the other day, in two separate incidents. One ran to the interstate and began driving the wrong way before wrecking out against the concrete middle barrier. Looking at the video, we simply can't count the number of lives that guy risked. He got to meet Mr. Taser when he jumped out and ran.

The other one, a girl, ran because she had a ticket that had gone to warrant. She sped through residential neighborhoods before our officer backed off.

Having caught all involved now, we feel like we owe it to the community to charge them to the fullest extent of the law. Look at the carnage that can come of such selfish acts. And, to be honest Xavier-- that woman could call herself lucky. :)

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Now you're starting to sound like AD. :)

Good work. Funny how life's timing works sometimes...

2:07 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

My wife's back in school fifteen years after we graduated high school, and she's taking her nursing school entrance exam in January. I sent her a link to this post so she can see some of the good she can be a part of.

You're good people, Xavier.

2:18 PM  
Blogger TheBronze said...

X, that's awesome. Glad you were there to help.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Wolfwood said...

Good on ya, X.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Outstanding. You are THE MAN.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

"Do you think it would be too late for me to try Nursing again at age 50?"

It's never too late. Do it now. The time is right.

FWIW, this occured about 3-5 years ago. I followed up at the hospital, but only the day afterwards to check on the infants through the nursing staff.

3:45 PM  
Blogger DouginSalcha said...


The world is too full of the kind of news where "if it bleeds, it leads" and there is too much - sometimes graphic - news of people dead or dying.

It is good to hear good news (even 5 years after the fact) - thank you for being who and what and where you are.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Riposte3 said...

Anonymous @1:49 PM said:

"What's the IM dose of Mag Sulfate for seizures during labor?"

2g IV or IO over 2 minutes for eclamptic seizures.


4:38 PM  
Anonymous Shirley Paine said...

Mag sulfate can be given 5g (5cc of a 50% solution) in each buttock IM for an adult, equaling a total of 10g overall.

IM administration is indicated when:
1. A pump for adjustable and reliable IV delivery is not available.
2. Continuous monitoring of the health of the mother and fetus is not possible.
3. The mother must be transferred to another location for treatment.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Breda said...

Xavier, if I were ever in an accident, I would want you to be my nurse. You're just amazing. Good job.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...


Well done! Thanks for all you give to your communities.

God Bless,

10:56 PM  
Blogger Ed Skinner said...

My Dad was a surgeon. He used to carry an emergency tracheotomy "kit" with scalpel and large bore needle in a sterile container in the inside pocket of his suit jacket. I thank God he was never called upon to use it at the restaurants where we ate Sunday dinner.

God has placed a lot of trust in you, and you've shown yourself worthy.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Anthony said...

Sir, I give you a standing ovation for a job well done. If there were an award for selflessly going above and beyond the call of duty you would be at the top of the list.

The ability to be able to help is one of the reasons why I am going to Nursing School. I do not like the feeling of being helpless when people need the help.

11:32 AM  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

Wow. Great post. Good work.

3:45 PM  
Blogger be603 said...

BZ shipmate

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

A nurse at his professional best. A human being living up to the standards of humanity. God bless you, Xav.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous 1894C said...


Xavier, you Sir... I have no words.

As a father of four, let me say may the good Lord provide that someone of your outstanding character be there is God forbid my Wife or children need help.

God bless you and keep you Sir.



9:40 PM  
Blogger Qi Ji Guang said...

Congrats, Xavier!

This is truly one of the most heart-warming stories I ever read. Those babies are so beautiful!

I hope the mother, and all those injured recover quickly.

And as for the truck-stealing SOB, he will be facing certain times ahead where his manhood WILL face robbery by certain men bigger and meaner than him. It doesn't have to be the prison shower. It can be anywhere in prison!

10:20 PM  

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