Meet Nursing Hero Birgit King

Nursing Hero Birgit King, Markham Stouffville Hospital

Working in emergency services, I know that professionals in this field are always ‘on’. You don’t turn off your innate instinct to help just because you are ‘off the clock’.  You don’t stop being a police officer, or a paramedic or a nurse.  Your skills and training and desire to help are always with you – even when you are off shift and heading home.

That’s what happened on a day in June of 2015.

I am a Commander with Toronto Paramedic Service and was heading home one evening, and was driving an unmarked emergency vehicle.  I came across an accident, immediately, after activating my emergency lights, and radioing for assistance, I proceeded to the victim that was lying on the road, unconscious, with severe head trauma and bleeding profusely. It was a terrible accident involving an electronic bike and minivan.

Using the emergency equipment that I had in my vehicle, I attempted to provide emergency care as another bystander was calling 911.

Shortly after my arrival, a woman bent down to help me. She identified herself as Birgit King and said she was an off-duty critical care nurse at Markham Stouffville Hospital.

Needless to say the offer to help was accepted without hesitation. After directing her to my vehicle to obtain protective gloves, we immediately began working as a team to provide emergency medical care to this very critically injured young man. She supported his head and neck while I attempted to open an airway and control the severe bleeding.

As you can appreciate, the scene was becoming increasingly hectic and there were numerous bystanders in a state of shock at witnessing such a tragic accident.

Throughout this occurrence, Birgit was calm and professional and totally focused on providing care. We both focused on doing everything we could to help this young man while trying to keep everyone around us calm. This was not an easy task but it was something that both Birgit and I were able to manage.

With Birgit’s’ assistance we were able to provide the best care possible while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. It is never ideal to be providing care on the side of the road in the middle of a horrific accident scene – but Birgit’s willingness to stop and help, made a huge difference in the care that was provided.

On arrival of the Paramedics, the care was then transferred to them, and the patient was transported to a Trauma Centre.  Unfortunately, the young man died that evening in hospital.  His injuries were too catastrophic.

After exchanging information with the investigating Police Officers, Birgit and I both continued doing what we were doing before we met up on that road – going home.  She wasn’t in her scrubs, she wasn’t on duty – and she could have avoided becoming involved, but she didn’t, just simply a Nurse who used her training, expertise and compassion to help an injured fellow citizen and assist me in providing emergency medical care in this most unusual situation.

Given how she stepped in during this roadside accident, I can only imagine the type of nurse she would be in the Critical Care Unit at Markham Stouffville Hospital.  I would say her patients are lucky to have someone who is as dedicated and professional as her, and that she is a great reminder of why people go in to healthcare.

Nominated by: Peter Rotolo – Commander, Toronto Paramedic Services