Thanks to a Sky Ridge nurse’s quick thinking and the urge to do the right thing, a life was probably saved on a cold, icy highway in the early-morning hours of Jan. 6.
Sky Ridge Medical Center ICU nurse Kristan Dye was driving on Gun Club Road in Aurora with her two children headed toward Children’s Hospital Colorado when she saw a vehicle, about three cars ahead of her, veer off the road.
When the other two cars zoomed by the crashed vehicle, Dye said she realized there was a person inside and something told her to stop. She exited her vehicle, telling her 11- and 8-year-old children to stay in the car.
Dye ran to the car and found an unresponsive female inside, while noting that smoke was starting to come from the engine.
Dye grabbed her medical kit as two men who did not speak English also stopped to help. She said she was able to get them to call 9-1-1 while she assessed the injured woman.
“She was unconscious, barely breathing,” Dye said. “I worked to open up her airway and she took a huge breath of air in.”
While waiting for emergency crews to arrive, Dye said she kept talking to the woman, telling her to “just hang on.”
After a few minutes, the Aurora Fire Department arrived on scene.
Fire Medic Roger Baker said he got to the woman and saw that Dye was holding her head steady and keeping her in place. Baker said the Sky Ridge nurse, about whom he knew nothing at the time, continued to help until they had the patient ready to be transported.
Baker said as Dye left, all he heard her say was she was a nurse at Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree. Given that Dye likely saved another person’s life that day, Baker said he couldn’t just let the issue be.
“What she did was make a big difference for this woman,” Baker said. “She really went above and beyond the call of duty that day. I tried to track her down because she deserved credit.”
Starting with the 9-1-1 report, Baker said he found Dye’s first name. He then called Sky Ridge Medical Center, telling them about what had happened, asking for assistance in finding the anonymous nurse.
Baker said Sky Ridge staff were able to pinpoint who the nurse was quickly, identifying Dye in the ICU.
In a special recognition ceremony on Jan. 19, Baker and Dye were once again brought together. The two embraced, talking briefly about the patient and that morning.
Sky Ridge CEO Kirk McCarty said when the hospital heard what one of their own did, it could not just be left alone. McCarty said honoring both Baker and Dye for their work was an opportunity to highlight something positive in the medical industry, while noting it was nice to have something that had nothing to do with COVID.
McCarty presented Dye and Baker with a Sky Ridge Healthcare Hero award.
Getting the recognition was nice, Baker said, but noted that it is his job to arrive on accident scenes and work to save lives. Baker said all the credit goes to Dye because not many people would have stopped and taken the time to save a life the way she did that morning.
Dye said she was definitely out of her element while helping the woman she did not know. Dye said in the ICU she’s used to having other nurses and doctors available to assess and work as a team. That day, Dye said, it was tough because she knew “It was really only up to me.”
After having some time to reflect, Dye said maybe she was just meant to be there that day, noting that all the elements fell into place that allowed her to act quickly and help the female patient.
Joking, Dye said her two children were well behaved during the ordeal, which “rarely happens.”
Ultimately, Dye said, “I stepped in because it was the right thing to do and I treated her the way I would treat a family member.”
Both Baker and Dye have not had an opportunity to meet the unknown female patient that morning. Eventually, Dye said she does want to meet her once she recovers.