2007 Inspired Comfort Award Grand Prize Winner – LPN/LVN Category

Award Story

Virginia LPN Honored for Saving Life in Crowded Airport

When you're a nurse, there is no telling where you will encounter someone in need of your assistance. It could be in a park, a department store or even your local supermarket. For Fawn Fitz, LPN, a nurse at Community Memorial Healthcenter in South Hill, Va., it was Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. For her courageous and life-saving actions that day, she has received the prestigious Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award. She is one of only 10 honorees nationwide in 2007.

The award is granted annually by Cherokee Uniforms to recognize nurses and other non-physician healthcare professionals who demonstrate exceptional service, sacrifice and innovation and have a positive impact on others' lives. This is the 5th year the leading designer and manufacturer of healthcare apparel has honored inspirational caregivers.

Fitz was on her way home from a national competition in which her daughter participated. Although the event took place at Iowa State University, she and her party ended up in Chicago when their flight plan was suddenly changed. She was rushing through the crowded airport to change planes when the unthinkable happened; she came upon a man who was lying on the floor, seemingly lifeless. Without hesitation, she threw her bags down and sprung into action as a first responder. Finding the man had no pulse, Fitz pulled out a medical mouth shield and began administering CPR. She continued artificially breathing for the man while another nurse arrived and began giving him chest compressions.

"Patients don't always like to hear what needs to be done in order to get well, but if you are a good nurse you will tell them and get them motivated even when they don't like it."

Fitz kept her undivided attention on the man, despite the large crowd of people that had gathered around to watch. After learning that the airport had an Automatic External Defibrillator, she used the device to shock the man twice. He finally began to regain his heart rhythm. Fitz smiles as she recalls, "As soon as I saw the paramedics, I started screaming ‘Ya'll need to intubate him!' And they did."

She was nominated for the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Awardby her colleague, Susan Helms, who commented that although Fitz was credited by airport personnel, airline staff and bystanders for saving the man's life, she has responded with humility and dignity.

"I just did what needed to be done and what any nurse should do. I believe God put me there at that moment for a reason because there were so many reasons that our group shouldn't have been there," says Fitz.

As a Grand Prize Winner in the award's LPN/LVN category, Fitz receives an all-expense-paid Caribbean cruise for two, a crystal award and a wardrobe of Cherokee healthcare apparel. She also will appear in the nationally distributed Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award 2008 calendar. 

Since the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award was established in 2003, more than 5,300 healthcare professionals have been nominated in the Registered Nurse, Advanced Practice Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse, Student Nurse and Non-Physician Healthcare Professional categories. A panel of nursing professionals and Cherokee representatives evaluates nominations and grants the awards.

For every nomination received in 2007, Cherokee Uniforms donated $1 to national health-centered charities. The total amount was divided equally among the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the Alzheimer's Association. Since 2005, Cherokee has donated over $3,300. Proceeds from Cherokee Uniforms products support healthcare professionals through initiatives such as the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award, an annual calendar and the A Nurse I Am Film and Scholarship Program. Cherokee Uniforms will be accepting nominations for the 2008 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award beginning March 1, 2008 through May 31, 2008.

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