Quick-Thinking Officer Protects and Serves Patients and Community
One in an ongoing series.
Venus Powell thought she’d seen it all in her 11 years as a protective services officer at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. Then, not long ago, this happened:
Powell was on duty in the hospital lobby when a car pulled into the driveway with a woman inside who was “having a baby,” Powell was told.
Powell grabbed a wheelchair and hurried outside, planning to take her to the emergency department (ED). But when Powell opened the back door of the car, where the woman was sprawled across the seat, she was shocked to see the baby already on the way.
“I could see the baby’s head and the top of the shoulders. I’d never seen anything like that before,” Powell said. Powell radioed for back-up and then helped deliver the baby, right there in the back seat, before rushing mother and baby, attached by the umbilical cord, to the ED.
“My main concern was to hurry up and get the woman to safety. She looked like she was in shock. She wasn’t even saying anything; she was just lying there. I didn’t even hear her crying; that scared me. I kept saying, ‘You’re going to be OK, you’re going to be OK.’”
Powell had noticed the driver of the car frantically pacing while she helped deliver the baby. But when she returned from the ED to give him an update, he’d already left. It turned out he wasn’t the baby’s father or a relative of the woman, as she’d assumed; he was an Uber driver.
“He was pacing. I remember the look on his face,” Powell said. “He was concerned about the mom, the baby – and his car!”
Powell’s response to the situation was typical; her quick instinct to take control of an unstable situation is a characteristic that has won her departmental awards and the admiration of her colleagues.
“She’s the queen!” one of them said.
Powell made headlines in 2013, when she quietly cajoled a suicidal man out of jumping off the roof of a building on the Einstein Medical Center campus, keeping him talking until police arrived.
In July of 2018, she found an unresponsive driver sitting in a large SUV that was running and in gear near the hospital entrance; the driver had his foot on the brake. Powell called 911, then flung open the car door and put the car in park. The driver was rushed to the ED and treated for a diabetic seizure.
Powell, a former corrections officer, attributes her quick thinking and composure under pressure to a higher power. “I look at it as a blessing. God places you in certain situations for a reason. You won’t be put in a situation you can’t handle. You do what you’ve got to do.”
But, seriously, how did she know how to deliver a baby? “I didn’t,” Powell said. “I was very, very shocked. I have kind of a weak stomach; I’m surprised I was able to get through that. I just thank God I didn’t freak out.”
Powell said she just slipped her (gloved) hands under the baby and “pulled a little and I felt the baby sliding. That whole thing went really fast.”
Powell was so moved by the incident that, after visiting the mother again in the ED, she went to the gift shop and bought balloons, a card and a “Born at Einstein” T-shirt for the baby. “She was so grateful. She didn’t speak English well; she just kept saying, ‘Thank you, thank you,’” Powell said.
A day or two later, Powell visited the woman again when she and the baby were about to be discharged. They were going home – by Uber.