Student Nurse’s Quick Action Saves Colleague During Stroke

As a nurse, you expect to deal with a patient emergency at any time, but Jordan Buras was confronted by a colleague having a stroke while on duty. Her observations and quick action possibly saved another nurse’s life or, at the very least, helped to prevent severe disability.

Nurse shows signs of stroke

While still a nursing student in February, Buras was shadowing registered nurse Dawn Echevarria at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia when she noticed that something was very wrong.

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The two nurses were attending to a 5-month old baby in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Echevarria was leaning over the patient’s bed and then mumbled something. When Buras went closer she noticed that her colleague’s face was drooping and that she was drooling.

Buras immediately realized that Echevarria was having a stroke and the mnemonic FAST, which she had learned as a student, sprung to mind. Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Slurred speech and Time to call emergency services.

FAST Mnemonic During Stroke
Act F.A.S.T. During a Stroke. Image via: cedars-sinai.edu

She recalled that you needed to get the patient into a sitting position. As there were no chairs in the room, she helped the nurse to sit down on the floor. Torn between shouting for help, thereby waking the children, and leaving her patient, she quickly ran and summoned another nurse from next door.

Soon there were a few nurses and doctors assisting Echevarria and they were able to get her to the Emergency Room within six minutes.  With a stroke, there is a very small window of time for successful medical intervention.

Nursing knowledge kicked in

Afterwards, Buras explained that her ability to deal with the incident had given her confidence for her future nursing career.  “All I learned in nursing school came to me at that moment,” she said. “It seemed like it happened so fast. People think they will go completely blank. Everything came back to me and I thought this was what I needed to do.”

Echevarria is recovering well and has thanked Buras’s for her quick action.  Also, if Buras had not been shadowing her at the time it would have been quite possible that no-one would have found her for 30 minutes or longer. Normally she would have been on her own, busy charting in a patient’s room.

Buras is now a qualified nurse. She has been accepted into a Doctor of Nursing Practice program in primary health care at Augusta University which she’ll be starting soon.