A Community of Helpers

Many people can remember the bus crash that happened on March 13 when a bus of Houston, Texas high school band students ran off the road, fell 60 feet and plunged into a steep ravine off of Interstate 10. The high school students were on their way home from a band competition at Disney World in Orlando. FL.

A few minutes after 6 a.m., a call came in to Sacred Heart Hospital’s Emergency Department. Helicopters and EMS were on the scene. Nineteen high school students and one adult chaperone would ultimately be transferred to Sacred Heart.
Our Hospital prepares for this type of disaster. Adrenalin starts pumping. Training takes over, and our team springs into action. However, no amount of training could prepare us for the heartwarming response of our community.

Television’s children host Mr. Rogers said his mother responded to scary news by telling him, “Look for the helpers.” We were touched by the outpouring of support from so many of our community partners looking to help these Houston students however they could.
Our Studer Family Children’s Hospital staff — from the Pediatric Emergency Room, transport crew, child life, nursing, radiology and laboratory to pharmacy, respiratory, anesthesia, operating room — are all specially trained in meeting the medical needs of children, immediately went into a quick and comprehensive response. Many night-shift staff stayed late, and 20 off-duty physicians came in to help as needed.

The medical care is only part of the equation.

One of our Sacred Heart nurse managers drove to South Baldwin Medical Center in Foley to pick up two family members, who were themselves injured in the crash, so they could reunite with their daughter hospitalized at Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart Information Technology team hurriedly set-up a room of laptops so that students could communicate with their loved ones. Our dietary and housekeeping teams kept the students as comfortable as possible while they waited to reunite with their parents. Our chaplains, child life specialist, and our in-house facility dog, Sprout, gave emotional support to the injured teenager, and the Studer Family Children’s Hospital team even came together to celebrate Jose Valadez’s 17th birthday during his stay.

These Houston children were in shock and nine hours away from home. But the home they found, thanks to our community’s loving embrace, is one we should be intensely proud of.