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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Not your typical day at the office

An employee at Mary Washington Home Health and Hospice took this picture during the recent rescue of a delivery driver.

Three nurses at Mary Washington Healthcare put their training to use recently when they rescued a man who had collapsed outside their office.

The incident happened Jan. 5 at the Mary Washington Home Health and Hospice office in Massaponax. For Joyce Little, it started with the words that no car owner wants to hear: “Joyce, someone has hit your car. It’s smoking.”

Little’s co-worker had just returned from lunch to find an accident in the parking lot behind their office. The driver of a flower delivery van had suffered a cardiac arrest, lost control of his vehicle and slammed into her parked car.

The horn was blaring on the delivery van. The driver still had his foot on the accelerator, and the vehicle was pushing against Little’s Jeep Grand Cherokee.

When Little and two of her colleagues, Sheryl Mock and Donna Hebb, reached the scene, they found the driver, a middle-aged man, upright and passed out in his seat. His airbag had deployed.

One of them switched off the van’s ignition, and the three tried to revive the man. White smoke rolled from the tangle of vehicles, accompanied by a strong smell of burnt rubber.

“I don’t know what this car is going to do,” Little remembers thinking. “We have to get him out.”

So Little grabbed the man’s feet, and with the others, including Dawn Shannon, at his head, they moved him from behind the wheel and onto the ground.

Little is one of the supervisors at Massaponax office. Mock is a field supervisor, and Hebb is a case manager. All three are registered nurses and trained in CPR.

Little's office at Massaponax.

The man had no pulse and was not breathing, so Hebb began chest compressions. From inside the office, a worker brought a barrier mask so Mock could begin respirations. Leann Curtis, another worker, brought a defibrillator. They hooked the man to the machine, but it did not recommend a shock.

Soon a Spotsylvania rescue squad arrived and took the man to the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center. From there he was transferred to Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, where he was still hospitalized this morning.

Little said her car was totaled, and that she’s driving a rental vehicle now. “God used everything and everyone here, and they worked so well together,” she said.

Update, 3:45 p.m.: I take the blame for the confusion surrounding  the name of one of the workers involved in the rescue. (See comments section.) The original post did not have Leann’s name. When Cathy Peterjohn saw that, she asked that I include it. That seemed like a reasonable request, so I went back and added Leann’s name.


  • Cathy Peterjohn

    Jim, for accuracy and since you included every one elses name ,can you change the sentence “someone else brought a defibrillator” to include a name.
    It was Leann Curtis, Diabetes Educator that brought forth the defibrillator which we had purchased and kept in the Diabetes Management suite in case of occasions such as this.


    Cathy, if you re-read it says and I quote “Leann Curtis, another worker, brought a defibrillator.” Why do people have to pick apart a story, especially one where a man could have easily lost his life? You don’t express concern for him at all, you just want to make sure someone’s name is in the paper. Granted, I do believe to give credit where credit is due, but give it a break already. I commend all involved who helped this gentleman. Youwere all his guardian angels.


    Well so sorry for trying to defend you Mr. Hall. I will make sure it doesn’t happen again. Hoping for a speedy recovery to the delivery driver.

  • Yankinva

    It was amazing to see all the gals spring to action-from Dawn alerting everyone to the situation,calling for help, & assisting with CPR,Shirley’s response with a fire extiguisher and mask, Leann with the defibrillator, Donna, Sheryl, & Joyce collaborating to deliver quick response – it was all about the driver – each and everyone of them ignored the cold and worked together until the rescue squad was able to arrive. I am proud to know them and work by, and with them-no matter what the entity-Mary Washington Home Health, Private Duty, & Diabetes Management-when it came to a community emergency everyone worked together for the sake of the driver;)

  • mike harland

    LEANN IS A HERO…She was thinking on her feet and knew how to respond to a real emergency! She had enough foresight to grab the defribillator, and knew how to use it… Cool heads prevailed for a quick rescue, hope the gentleman makes a speedy recovery.