Called a Hero

  1. February 28, 2003 New York Region
    The New York Times

    Called a Hero in a Fire, a Nurse Demurs

    By ALAN FEUER


    HARTFORD, CT - Feb. 27-The alarm at the Greenwood Health Center sounded in the middle of the night. Marian Schumaker, the supervising nurse, saw the flashing red light on her indicator box.


    She ran nearly 200 feet. Toward the flames, not away from them.


    Ms. Schumaker, 60, has been hailed by officials here for having rescued patients from the flames and thick smoke of a fire that killed 10 people and injured 23 in a deadly fire at the nursing home on Wednesday. A veteran nurse who had worked as an emergency technician in Tarrytown, N.Y., she was in charge of a staff of 11: three nurses and eight nurses' aides. Through the night, they cared for 148 patients, many of whom were elderly and infirm.


    "She was a hero," Deputy Fire Chief Daniel Nolan said. "She didn't want to leave."


    Ms. Schumaker denies that she was a hero. She said she did what anyone would have done-and did it without much thought. "You have 10 seconds to get yourself together and ask, `What am I going to do?' " she said. "Then you have to act."


    Although her recollections of what she did that night are hazy, witnesses recall her pulling patients from the fire despite burns on her hands. They recall her leading the professionals into the very heart of the blaze. "It felt like your clothes were going to melt," Ms. Schumaker said. "It was very, very scary. The smoke was in your lungs all the time-in every breath you took it was there."


    Ms. Schumaker said the real hero was the first firefighter who arrived on the scene as she stood by the patients. "He said, `I'm here now. It's time for you to go,' " she said.


    She did go, but only after the Police and Fire Departments had arrived. She was hospitalized for burns and smoke inhalation, but hours later, when the hospital released her, she went back to the nursing home to see whether her staff members or patients needed help. "It takes a lot to get me down," she said. "You can only cry so much. Then you have to get back to the routine."
    Last edit by -jt on Mar 1, '03
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    About -jt

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    6 Comments

  3. by   -jt
    oops... didnt mean to hit that button twice.
    Last edit by -jt on Mar 1, '03
  4. by   A Kitty RN
    Thanx for the heart warming story- Instead of focusing on the negative all the time. Love to hear positive things nurses do!!!!
  5. by   Mkue
    Great article jt !! thanks for sharing.
  6. by   traumaRUs
    Thanks so much. She IS a true hero!!!
  7. by   ERNurse752
    Wow!
  8. by   P_RN
    Yes she is.

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