On the morning of Dec. 8, 2017, Paula Weatherley, a cardiac cath lab supervisor at Conway Regional Medical Center, was on call.
At 4:30 a.m. Weatherley and the rest of the cath lab staff were notified of an emergency heart attack victim coming to the hospital by Medflight from Clinton.
Weatherley, who lives in Enola, began her journey in to Conway.
She said she made it all the way to Ida Burns Elementary before hitting a piece of metal in the road causing one of her tires to blow.
Weatherley is cardiovascular radiographer, which means she is the scrubber who stands next to the doctors and serves as their assistant.
“I am their second set of hands,” she said.
Weatherley said she immediately began to worry about how she was going to get to the hospital.
She said she began to assess the situation around her and made the decision to grab her purse and coat and take off toward the hospital.
“My adrenaline just took over and I knew that I had to get [there],” Weatherley said. “You just do what you have to do.”
She said she was the only tech on call, which meant she was the only one able to “scrub the case.”
“If I [didn’t] get there then we [couldn’t] do the life-saving procedure,” Weatherley said. “I knew the patient was being [Medflighted in] which means they were in severe condition so if I didn’t get [there] they could do.”
She said the danger of her being outside by herself so early was outweighed by the thought of the patient dying.
When she got to the hospital she was out of breath and gasping for air but she beat the helicopter by two minutes, got herself together and then got to work.
After the surgery, Weatherley’s day continued as usual.
“It was just a normal day,” she said. “I didn’t think that I had done anything extraordinary. I just did what I had to do to get here to help the patient and to be a teammate.”
Turns out, that same day one of her coworkers nominated her for the BEE (Being Exemplary Everyday) Award, one of Conway Regional’s methods of rewarding exemplary care provided by non-nurses.
Weatherley was surprised with the honor in January.
“I was completely humbled and even still kind of tearful thinking about that but I don’t think I did anything extraordinary,” she said, adding fireman, police and others do that work all the time. “Working in healthcare that’s just something that we do.”
Weatherley said as a caregiver she’s there to serve the patient and was never expecting any accolades for doing her job.
“I only did what I would want someone to do for my family and whenever a patient comes in — and that’s a phrase I even tell them — once you’re in here you’re my family,” she said. “I want that for my family so that’s how I treat everyone else because I only expect the best of care when you’re in that position.”
Weatherley said she is proud to be a part of a team — the same ones that now call her Forrest Gump and joke about naming a future run in her honor — that saved someone’s life but knows she only became this person by her parents raising her right and tries to instill that in her own children.
“It’s just to serve others and put others before yourself and at the end of the day as long as you're doing that or making someone's day, then you've done something good in the world."
She said she’s proud of the plaque in her office but even more so that the patient is still alive and home with their family.