Nurses Pull Together, Save Lives in Oklahoma Tornado

NursingJuly 18, 2013

In the aftermath of May’s devastating tornado in Moore, Okla., stories have emerged about the heroics of nurses at the Moore Medical Center. Nurses drill and prepare for any eventuality, but no one could have foreseen what would happen when winds in excess of 200 miles per hour scored a direct hit on the facility. Thanks to the medical center’s storm safety plan and the vigilance of hospital personnel, all patients and staff survived without injuries. But not before several nurses showed their mettle under harrowing circumstances. Within 15 minutes of the warning being sounded, nurses had moved patients into safe areas of the hospital. As the storm raged, labor and delivery nurse Cheryl Stoepker, RN, prayed while holding onto a newly delivered mother and the baby she had helped deliver just an hour earlier. One patient – an actively laboring woman – remained in a labor and delivery suite. Four nurses stayed with her throughout the tornado, covering her with blankets and even their bodies as one wall disintegrated. Miraculously, everyone survived. When the storm had passed, the patient, accompanied by the nurses, was able to walk down the stairs and later deliver a healthy child. Once the winds subsided, Emergency Room Manager Nick Stremble, RN, and his staff had to guide patients out through the outpatient surgical waiting room at the back of the building because the front had been ripped off and was littered with debris. Even so, Stremble crawled through the rubble to notify arriving firefighters and emergency medical personnel that patients were at the back of the structure, then returned to help staff move patients out of the damaged structure. “I’m proud of my staff, the other nurses, and staff,” Stremble said afterward. “Everybody kept a level head and did what they were supposed to do… and remained calm. That’s the only reason everybody walked out.” Most nurses don’t have to work under such dire conditions, but they still are heroes to patients for whom they provide critical medical care. Learn more about the profession that’s part science and part art at