Hero nurse

Davia Tucker receives national award for saving children from hospital fire

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 17, 2017



Davia Romano Tucker's act of bravery in helping to save the life of four children at Bustamante Hospital for Children first came to light on January 12 when news broke of a fire at the hospital.

Yesterday, her selflessness was officially rewarded with a Badge of Honour for Gallantry at the 2017 National Honours and Awards ceremony at King's House in St Andrew.

“I feel blessed, and I'm giving God all the glory and the thanks. I'm excited. On that day it was terrifying; it is something that you don't want to happen at work — you have patients, parents, staff members. It was a fearful time for me,” Tucker — smartly dressed in her nurse's uniform — told the Jamaica Observer moments after accepting her award from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at the annual ceremony.

She recalled the experience which saw her and other staff at the paediatric hospital uniting to ensure that the children in their care in the IC unit were not harmed.

“We were in the unit and we smelled something burning, and when the porters went to check they saw that the room was on fire. We started getting persons to carry fire extinguishers and oxygen cylinders to the unit… we tried getting the parents outside and we also tried getting the door knocked down. Once the door was open you saw fire, (and) saw jet black smoke coming out, and it's an enclosed area so in seconds I couldn't see — and that's when we realised that the place was on fire,” she remembered.

Tucker said she and her co-workers knew they had to extinguish the blaze and at the same time remove the patients who had delicate health conditions. “We had two tasks — try to get the fire out and control the smoke, and try to get the patients out without any mishaps.” The latter, she explained was the main challenge because the patients were on intravenous fluids. “If anything was dislodged, even though you're helping you could actually hurt the patients.”

The young nurse said she sprang into action but after taking two patients outside, when they attempted to return to the burning room for the two remaining children, she was forced to break a window, with the assistance of a colleague, as the exit point was no longer accessible.

“The doctors, the nurses, the porters came together and we got (them out).” Getting the last patient out was very tedious, she said, because that patient was being kept alive by medication. “So if anything stopped while taking that patient out, that would be it for the patient,” she pointed out.

Tucker stressed that what stands out for her was the cooperation among the staff. “What I appreciate is that everybody just came together, and that was the beauty of it. Everything just flowed, and everyone came through. I'm just giving God thanks. I had good persons with me on that day… no one stood back. I couldn't do it without them and I don't want them to forget that,” she said, to the agreement of co-worker Andre Borrowes, an asthmatic who was present on the day.

“It was a risky time,” he recalled. “When the firemen came the fire was already out… when we threw the bucket of water I just had to aim, because I couldn't see the fire, because the smoke came down on us.”

Tucker was among seven brave Jamaicans who received the Badge of Honour for Gallantry for helping to save lives in circumstances of extreme danger. The Badge of Honour is awarded to civilian residents, and to foreign nationals employed in the diplomatic and consular missions overseas in the categories of gallantry, meritorious service, and long and faithful service.

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