// Hurricane Heroine // CWR ‘08 // 27 //
When Hurricane Sandy began barreling toward New York City, Ashley Quick needed to get to NYU Langone Medical Center. A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse since 2008, she understood all too well the risks to patients—especially fragile ones already fighting for life.
The power was out by the time Quick reached the hospital. Using her cellphone to help light her way, she rushed up the nine flights to the unit. Once there, Quick’s training and preparation at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing clicked into gear: check vital signs, assess babies’ color and use manual air pumps to maintain oxygen levels. She needed both hands for the babies, so she clenched a flashlight between her neck and shoulders.
“We had to take care of the babies like nothing had really changed. The babies still needed to eat, still needed medicine, still needed support,” says Quick, who volunteered to work that night. “All you had, really, was your flashlight, your training and comfort in the skills and experience of your team.”
When it became clear power was not returning, the NICU—and the entire hospital—had to be evacuated. The NICU got first priority, and one by one, each baby was carried out by a unit nurse. Quick, who’d been monitoring three infants, stayed behind until the last babies were evacuated, finally carrying an infant girl down the stairs, and then riding with her in an ambulance to a nearby hospital in the wee hours of the morning.
“That night everybody—doctors, nurses, medical assistants, students—worked together to get the job done,” Quick says. “I’ve never been more proud to be a nurse than that night.”
Quick graduated from NYU’s nurse practitioner program in May, and is a pediatric nurse practitioner at a school-based health center in the Bronx (and still works shifts in NYU Langone’s NICU when possible). —EM