5 Nurses Who Are 21st Century Heroes

Nurses in surgery

We all know that nurses perform heroic acts as part of the job. Some, though, go beyond the call of duty on their time off. There are dozens of stories like this out there because nurses are never one to back down from an emergency or a crisis. Still, we thought these remarkable people deserved a little extra recognition.

Rayena Wesson

You may not have heard her name before, but her husband, Bobby, surely wants you to. His now famous Facebook post about Rayena featured a photo he took of her while she was napping with their son. “In an hour,” the post said, “she will wake up, put on her scrubs and get ready for work.”

The post movingly closes with these moving words: “…and she will leave to go take care of people that are having the worst day of their entire lives. Car wrecks, gunshot wounds, explosions, burns and breaks – professionals, poor, pastors, addicts and prostitutes – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and families – it doesn’t matter who you are or what happened to you.  She will take care of you. She will come home 14 hours later and remove shoes that have walked through blood, bile, tears and fire from aching feet and leave them outside.”

What we loved about this post, (outside of the fact that over a half a million people saw it, shared it, and therefore, gained a lot of respect and admiration for nursing), is that it could be any nurse. Still, Rayena sounds pretty awesome and good for you, Bobby, for bringing her to international attention.

Julie Stroyne

Walking out of her own wedding reception, still dressed in her beautiful wearing gown, Julie, 24, newly betrothed to husband Andrew Nixon, saw an unconscious woman on a bench. Without hesitating, Julie ran to the bench and performed chest compressions on the woman. Julie waited with the woman until paramedics arrived and probably saved her life. Julie should probably prepare herself for a devoted post from Andrew in a few years, ala Bobby.

Rosemarie McDonald

Rosemarie was employed at the vascular access team at the University of Michigan when she was traveling to San Diego with her husband. A nurse for 35 years, she jumped into immediate action when a fellow passenger’s pregnancy miscarried. Rosemarie got the woman to lay down near the bathroom, coordinated care with another nurse on board, and administered a saline IV. According to the story carried in the hospital’s staff magazine, Rosemarie said: “I never had a second thought that I needed to assist this woman,” she remembers. “As soon as they made the announcement I went to the back of the plane and saw her near the bathroom, obviously in distress and white as a ghost.”

Not a moment’s hesitation. Jumped in exactly when she was needed. Saved a woman’s life in the process. Did we mention that she also comforted the patient’s children who were terrified (of course) at their mother’s condition? Of course you did, Rosemarie. Because you’re a hero.

Linda Alweiss

So, you’ve never heard of Linda, but the people who were on a flight from California to Iowa with her back in 2014 will never forget her. How could you forget the woman who saved the life of the pilot flying your plane? (Yeah, you wouldn’t. We didn’t either.) She answered an on flight announcement asking for medical assistance, was guided to the cockpit where she found the pilot having trouble breathing. She and another nurse stabilized his heart with a defibrillator and gave him an IV until the co-pilot landed the plane at the nearest airport.

Oddly enough, when Linda and her family concluded their trip the next day, she sat right next to that same co-pilot. Of course, they recognized each other. Linda told the media that the co-pilot assured her that because of her efforts, paramedics were able to get the ill pilot to a cardiac unit, and he survived. We hope that this pilot remembers Linda on his holiday card list at very least.

Amy Smythe

Amy had just run 13 miles in the Key West Half Marathon. As she crossed the finish line, she saw a man, collapsed, his skin an unsettling color of gray, on the ground. Without taking any of her fatigue into consideration, she dropped next to him and began performing CPR. She got him breathing and responding until the paramedics arrived.

The next day, a friend of hers pointed Amy to a video on Facebook. His name was Bill Amirault, and he was looking for someone to tell him the name of the woman who’d saved his life. When she found him, he said, he was suffering from ventricular fibrillation. Doctors told him that if it weren’t for her immediate intervention, he could have suffered permanent brain damage or, of course, death.

That year, Amy beat her normal race time by 20 minutes. Had she not turned in a personal best, she may not have been at the right place at the right time. Did we mention that Amy spent the next day scouring the news to find out if he was alive? Of course she did. Because she’s awesome. (Another word for that, Amy, is heroic.)

We picked these stories because these are everyday stories. These are off-duty nurses who, faced with a crisis, jumped into professional mode and did what they do, quite literally, all the time. At CDI, we say this all the time: nurses are awesome.  Ready to start your awesome journey and enroll to an LVN career? Click HERE to contact us by email or call 310-559-0225.


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