Angels Among Us Faces and Places

Life-Saving Nurse: You Just Do It And Hope For The Best

Stephanie Barton's nurse training came in handy.

Stephanie Barton was driving down Slaughter Road in Madison when she saw a woman standing in the road, yelling in each direction, trying to get someone to help.

Stephanie recognized the woman’s panic. It’s something she sees on a regular basis in her job as a pediatric ICU nurse at Huntsville Hospital.

There was no question—she knew what she had to do. Stephanie pulled over, jumped out of her car and ran to the woman. She saw a vehicle in the ditch and a badly injured man. Stephanie jumped into action, providing CPR for the man and immobilizing his neck for several minutes until an ambulance arrived.

“I’m a pediatric ICU nurse, so I’ve been in stressful situations,” Stephanie said. “But it’s very different when you’re in a ditch on the side of the road, and no one else has any medical experience.”

There were about six passersby who stopped to help, including two men who monitored the injured man’s pulse. Another person was able to stay on the phone with emergency services and continually update them on his condition.

Stephanie says if you ever come upon an accident, the best thing you can do is to listen to medical professionals and do what they instruct you to do. Also, it’s important for someone to stay on the phone with 911 and update them about what is happening. This worked to help save Wednesday’s accident victim. By the time HEMSI got to the scene, they already knew Stephanie had been performing CPR.

During the whole ordeal, Stephanie kept thinking about who the man was before the accident and who he would be after he recovered. Thoughts filled her mind.

“This is somebody’s father,” Stephanie said. “This is somebody’s husband, and I need to keep him still, and I need to keep a heart rate in order to keep him alive until EMS got there.”

In an ironic twist, Stephanie said she had a discussion the day before with other nurses and doctors about the times they had to perform CPR outside of the hospital.

“While I was doing compressions, I audibly said, ‘I cannot believe this. We were just talking about this yesterday,’ ” Stephanie said.

Stephanie left before telling anyone her name, but others on the scene noticed her life-saving actions. It prompted a shout-out on WHNT for the woman to come forward.

WHNT reports that the man is recovering from his injuries at Huntsville Hospital.

Stephanie has a lot on her plate these days. In just a few months, her family will leave the United States and spend two years on board a hospital ship docked in Cameroon. She has two sons, a full time job and a husband to take care of in addition to raising funds for their mission.

It’s a life built around answering the call to help those in need—whether it’s on a ship, on the shores of Africa or in a ditch in Madison, Alabama.

“When you see the need, and you realize the severity of the situation and that there is no on else that can do it, then you just do it and hope for the best,” Stephanie said.

About the author


Jessie Harbin

Jessie is a newlywed living in Meridianville with her husband and three dogs. She's learning to sail on their 26-foot sailboat in Guntersville. At the time of publication, nobody has fallen ill because of her cooking.

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