Ohio nurse experiences extraordinary day

The Portsmouth Daily Times

NEW BOSTON — When Emily Whitley RN of Interim HealthCare in Southern Ohio went to work on Jan. 17 she never thought that her ordinary day would turn to an extraordinary day.

After a winter storm hit the region leaving 7-9 inches of snow overnight, Whitley decided to go visit the patients she knew she could likely get to. After 10 miles of very cautious driving toward her destination, she arrived at Buckeye Towers Senior Living Apartments, an eight-story facility, located in New Boston.

Normally Whitley would visit her six patients there on Tuesdays, but she had made arrangements with her Monday clients to go out Tuesday and she could go ahead and visit the Tuesday patients on Monday due to extreme road conditions. Her first visit was on the eighth floor. Little did she know what lay ahead for her.

As Whitley was conducting her in-home health visit, the fire alarm started going off. Her patient wasn’t disturbed by it because she said, “that happens there quite often and some people don’t pay any attention to it because they are always false alarms.”

Whitley, however being the caring diligent nurse that she is, had to determine, for herself and her patient’s safety, if it was a legitimate alarm this time. As she listened to the instructions coming over the very loud PA System, the unnerving fire alarm and the flashing white bright light that were all apparent in the hallway, she began to smell something she had not noticed when she first got there. She also began to see wisps of smoke in the hall near the floor. The elevators were inoperable but Whitley needed to check on her other clients too.

Whitley comforted her patient, gave her instructions according to those being given over the PA and assured her she would be right back. She made her way to the exit stairwell and went to check on her other five patients located on various floors below. It just happened to be Martin Luther King’s Day and there were no other caregivers or employees around to help those that were scared, handicapped, on oxygen, crying, distraught and trying to get down the stairs to where they felt safe.

Trip after trip she went up and down the stairs even though the ones she was helping find their way down were not her patients, they were someone that couldn’t do it by themselves. Whitley soon learned the fire was under control, finished helping those the most in need of help, then started back up to see about her patients.

One of the Firemen didn’t know who she was and yelled for her not to go back upstairs but she said, “sorry, but I have patients to see about” and she did just that. Whitley, being a sweet, soft spoken but confident nurse was able to bring calm to a pretty harrowing situation.

It turned out the fire was on the fourth floor, probably around a microwave oven and as the flame erupted the tenant ran to get help and left the door open. No one ended up getting hurt but the apartment was damaged.

The ironic thing about Whitley being at Buckeye Towers, as explained earlier, she wasn’t even supposed to be there on that day. She looked out at what had been left by the snowstorm, and made the decision to switch visit days, took care to get there safely, then went to the eighth floor to begin her visits.


The Portsmouth Daily Times

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