January 14, 2019
Triton College students recognized for professionalism, courage during Mercy Hospital tragedy
Between juggling a full-time job, attending Triton College and being a single mother of two daughters, Nadia Campbell is used to a hectic lifestyle. Perhaps that’s why she was able to remain calm and focused in the face of a tragedy that is unimaginable for many people.
On Nov. 19, Campbell, a student in Triton’s Nuclear Medicine Technology Program, had just finished her clinical assignment shift at Mercy Hospital in Chicago when she saw a rush of people running from the emergency room toward the main lobby. A person had been shot in the parking lot and it was uncertain whether the shooter had entered the hospital. Campbell’s first instinct was to run for safety, but something inside her told her to stop.
“There were four or five people in wheelchairs in the main lobby so we (Campbell and co-workers) grabbed those people in the wheelchairs and started putting them in a room that was off to the side of the main lobby,” she recalled.
The shooter had entered the hospital and three innocent people lost their lives that day, along with the suspected shooter. Thankfully, he never made it to the area where Campbell and the patients she helped were waiting.
Only a few yards away, Mary McKimmon, a student in Triton’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program, had a similar experience. She was also on clinical assignment at Mercy, when she and a co-worker began hearing gunshots. After locking and pushing cabinets in front of the door to her department, she calmly informed hospital staff and a patient in an adjacent room of what was happening.
McKimmon and the others huddled in the locked room for what she estimates was about 20 minutes.
“The shots kept ringing out. It seemed like they were in front of us, then behind us,” McKimmon said. “So we just kind of stayed there with the doors locked. I tried to keep everyone calm.”
Eventually, police knocked on the door and escorted McKimmon and others onto a bus with other hospital staff and patients, where they waited for several hours to be released.
Campbell and McKimmon were recognized for their professionalism and bravery by the Triton College Board of Trustees during its December monthly meeting.
“These women are what we hope all health career students will be, that they aspire to care for their patients and advocate for their safety no matter the circumstances,” said Dr. Sue Campos, Triton’s dean of Health Careers and Public Service Programs. “I commend them for their efforts, for their bravery and for their quick thinking. They are well on their way to becoming professionals.”
Campbell and McKimmon are set to graduate this spring, and each plans to pursue a career in their respective medical field.
Campbell credits the faculty of Triton College for preparing her for future career success.
“I’ve had a great experience at Triton. The program is very organized and they definitely do all they can to help students succeed and prepare for board exams,” she said.
McKimmon says Triton’s faculty has helped her cope in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“My teachers in the program have been so supportive. After the shooting, they’ve been following up with me. When it happened at Mercy, they were sending me text messages to make sure I was OK, they’ve been wonderful,” she said.