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Pomona Valley nurse wins prestigious award for aiding stricken paramedic

June 30, 2011 | 12:49 pm

Jody_Kelley A postpartum nurse who rushed to help a stricken paramedic after an ambulance crash has won a prestigious award rarely awarded to civilians.

Jody Kelley, 41, of Escondido, who works in the Labor and Delivery unit of Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, was presented Thursday with a Civilian Citation award by the Ontario Fire Department.

The accolade is the fire agency’s highest civilian honor and is seldom presented, according to fire department officials.

“It’s shocking… awesome… just crazy,” Kelley said shortly after receiving the tribute. “I’m still stunned.”

 But fire officials said Kelley’s quick and selfless actions truly deserved the rare honor.

According to hospital officials, Kelley was headed to work on the 10 freeway around 6 a.m. on May 8 when she saw an ambulance veer off the freeway and slam into the guardrail and pole at the 4th Street off-ramp.

The nurse of four years pulled over and ran to the ambulance, where she found a paramedic in the back of the vehicle and he appeared to be in full cardiac arrest.

As Kelley was trying to find the paramedic’s pulse and remove him from the ambulance, a passing car  hit a section of the dislodged guardrail, which then slammed into the ambulance, further demolishing it, according to reports of the incident.

“We thought it was going to flip over,” Kelley said. “I was scared, but I didn’t think about jumping out. That didn’t cross my mind. I was just trying to find a pulse.”

Once she got the paramedic onto the ground, she was able to perform CPR, hospital officials said. Paramedics were able to revive the victim’s pulse before transferring him to San Antonio Community Hospital.

Hospital officials said the victim, whom they didn’t name, was kept alive for two hours, allowing his family to be with him before he died.

“That just gave me great comfort and relief…. that he wasn’t alone,” Kelley said.


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-- Ann M. Simmons

Credit: Frank Garcia, Jr. / Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center.