SPOKANE (May 11, 2020) — Nurses and other healthcare workers are all considered heroes right now for enduring the stress, trauma and personal sacrifices that come with working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. But some of them — like Annette Thomas, a nurse for Providence Visiting Nurses in Spokane and member of the Washington State Nurses Association — were heroes all along.
Just ask Cally Duncan.
Just over a year ago, on Sunday, May 5, 2019, Duncan was driving westbound on SR 290 in the Spokane Valley when she was struck from behind by a suspected drunk driver causing her vehicle to roll onto its side off the roadway. She has no memory of the crash or its immediate aftermath. The next thing she remembered was waking up at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center more than 24 hours later suffering from a serious head injury. Since then, it’s been a long and difficult year of recovery, working with concussion specialists and therapists so her life could return to normal. But Duncan says she has always felt in her heart that she would be OK and get through this.
Annette Thomas probably had something to do with instilling that message. Not at the hospital, but at the scene of the accident.
She was across the street with a friend when the collision occurred and she ran to Duncan’s vehicle.
“That’s when I saw Cally in her vehicle that was on its side,” Thomas said. “She was non-responsive at first but then became restless and confused inside the car and started to move around, so I talked with her in an attempt to calm her so she wouldn’t move. Others wanted to get to her and drag her out, but I asked them to break the window for me so I could sit with her to keep her still — in case of neck injury — which they did. I crawled in the broken window and sat with her keeping her awake and not moving until the paramedics came on scene.”
Duncan later had no memory of what had happened. But some time later, she was reading a story about the accident on Facebook and a woman commented that she was at the scene, had assisted Duncan, and was glad to hear she was doing OK. It was Annette Thomas.
“She was off duty and came to comfort me,” Duncan said. “I’ve never met her. Just written on Facebook to thank her. She was just so great.”
Thomas doesn’t think the selfless thing she did was all that remarkable, perhaps because she helps people who are suffering and traumatized every day at work.
“I’m not a hero, I’m a nurse :)” Thomas wrote when The Stand first contacted her for this story. “It’s what I feel is a natural behavior to help another in need… (Cally Duncan) is an amazing woman and fighter. Thank you for this recognition, but she is the hero.”
Duncan’s message back to Thomas: “Thank you so much for being selfless and being there for me.”
On behalf of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and the 550,000 union members it represents, THANK YOU to Annette Thomas and all of the members of the Washington State Nurses Association. Your dedication to others — both inside and outside our hospitals — before and during the COVID-19 outbreak are an inspiration to all.
Do you know union members in Washington state who deserve recognition as Everyday Heroes amid the coronavirus crisis? Share their stories with us!
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