Liberty nursing students recognized for emergency actions, family lifesaving

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 4:33 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ/Liberty University Release) - Three Liberty University School of Nursing (LUSON) students recently put the skills they’re learning to use at the scene of a crash.

Driving through rain on a rural road this month, according to the university, junior Gabby Cain rounded a corner and came onto the scene of a crash that had apparently just happened. Two cars were involved, with two people sitting on the ground and a man standing, in shock, with blood on his face.

“The first thing I did was pull over, and I had a clinical that morning, so I still had my nursing bag with me with my pen light, stethoscope, and everything else,” Cain said. “I knew there were going to be injuries, but I didn’t know the extent of it. I’ve always been the type of person who wants to run to help whenever I see something wrong.”

Liberty University nursing students recognized for heroic actions
Liberty University nursing students recognized for heroic actions(Liberty University)

As Cain helped the man lie down to stabilize his head and neck in case of injury to his spinal cord or brain, said the university, fellow LUSON juniors Ella Miranda and Tyler Wilson arrived in another car. Wilson, a trained EMT, started doing neurological assessment on the man while Miranda checked his pulse and legs. The man was responsive while still in shock; the other two people had lesser injuries, so the students focused on him while they waited for paramedics to arrive, according to the university.

“I was really nervous that he wasn’t going to be okay,” Miranda said. “Since the EMTs were 30-45 minutes away, if he did have a spinal cord injury or brain bleed or something, all we could have done was stay with him and try to help. It could have been a lot worse, but thankfully it never was.”

“The EMTs were very appreciative of what we did and told us, ‘Thank you so much for being here and doing what you could, it doesn’t go unnoticed,’” Cain added. “I heard that and just thought to myself, ‘This really is my calling; this is where I belong.’”

The students were recognized for their actions this week during the School of Nursing’s all-faculty meeting, where they were presented with special honor coins as part of a monthly tradition highlighting students who have exhibited outstanding acts of service.

Also receiving recognition was junior Courtney Myer, whose medical training proved beneficial in a way that was closer to home, according to the university. Last fall, Myer asked her father to be her test patient for a class assignment in which she had to perform a cardiovascular assessment. She already knew he had a heart murmur, so she thought it would be helpful to practice on him, with an existing medical condition to monitor. In conducting the assessment, however, she heard more than expected.

Liberty University nursing students recognized for heroic actions
Liberty University nursing students recognized for heroic actions(Liberty University)

“I started with his lungs and heard the murmur in the lateral lung fields, and then I went more in depth and found that he had pulsation in his neck, and I knew that was a really bad sign,” Myer said. “I told him about it and said he should get it checked out.”

He then met with a doctor and was told his daughter had alerted them to the signs of an aortic valve stenosis and a potentially life-threatening ascending aortic aneurysm, according to the university. He has recovered after having surgery to replace his heart valve.

“The surgeon told him that if he hadn’t gotten this checked out when he did, he could have not woken up on any day,” Myer said. “It was definitely a God thing.”

“LUSON is blessed with students who demonstrate Kingdom living every day,” Interim Dean Dr. Tracey Turner said. “Using the fundamental skill of assessment, they showed God’s love in helping those in need, serving others as they serve God.”

Professor Dr. Jerry Harvey started the coin tradition, deriving the idea from his time serving in the U.S. military, according to the university. Upon retiring in 2007 from the Air Force and based at the Pentagon, Harvey purchased coins bearing the image of a soldier and the words “Armor of God” to give to his future students when he saw them perform “outstanding acts of service.” After five years of doing this on his own, Harvey collaborated with the dean at the time, Dr. Deanna Britt, to make the practice into an official LUSON custom in 2012.

“Any time we find a nursing student doing something noteworthy or something we would recognize as building the body of Christ, we give them a coin,” Harvey said. “On any given month, we give two to three coins out, and we’ve gotten to the point where we order (hundreds) at a time.”

“It’s an honor, and I’m definitely going to remember this forever,” Miranda said. “We were just there and did what we could.”

“I didn’t know what to expect, but it really was an honor to be in front of everyone, including my past and present professors,” Myer added.

“I’m going to hold on to this (coin) for a long time,” Wilson said.