Barbianne Davis of Ambridge made a split-second decision on Sept. 21, 2011, and became a hero.
A registered nurse for the Progressive Care Unit at Heritage Valley Sewickley hospital, she had just returned home around midnight from a nine-hour shift when she received word that there was a large apartment fire nearby. Exhausted, but without hesitation, Ms. Davis grabbed her nursing license and certifications and rushed off to help.
Alongside the firefighters and the Red Cross, Ms. Davis was a first responder to the fire where she triaged and monitored residents and firefighters exiting the building until 5 a.m.
For weeks afterward, Ms. Davis continued to aid victims as she worked with the Red Cross to mobilize a team of individuals, agencies and churches to raise money for hotel rooms and gift cards until each family she had been working with received appropriate resources and housing.
As a result of her efforts, Beaver County began Beaver County On-Call, a program uniting 16 groups and churches who pledged to pay for at least a week at local motels for those displaced because of a natural disaster.
In recognition of her actions, Cherokee Uniforms, a provider of medical apparel and footwear, recently announced that Ms. Davis is a recipient of the 10th annual Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award in the RN category.
She joins five other health care professionals across the country who were selected for their impact on the lives of others through "extraordinary patient care, sacrifice and innovation while serving as an inspiration to others."
Ms. Davis will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to a medical conference of her choice; a wardrobe of Cherokee Uniforms and Cherokee Footwear; a crystal Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award trophy; a 14K gold-plated commemorative pin; a year's subscription to Scrubs, a lifestyle magazine for nurses; and a $500 donation in her name to the Diseases Attacking the Immune System Foundation.
Additionally, Cherokee Uniforms will donate $1 for each nomination received during the 2012 nomination period to Nurses House, a national fund that provides short-term financial assistance to registered nurses facing hardships.
Although Ms. Davis is enjoying the recognition and plethora of prizes, she said she is most excited about the newly established Beaver County On-Call program.
"That's absolutely my favorite part of the whole thing," she said. "Whenever something happens now, we have a community that's connected with each other that's going to hold each other up."
A third-generation Ambridge resident, Ms. Davis said it was her strong connection to and love for her town that fueled her actions during the fire. The resultant pooling of resources to help the victims is the picture of the town that she said she remembers.
"The town that I grew up in is the town that takes care of each other and that's what I wanted to see again," she said.
Ms. Davis, who has worked for Heritage Valley Sewickley hospital for five years, said she is excited as well that her co-workers can see that it's not about going to work every day and getting a paycheck.
"They really see that we work hard and that taking that moment to not just go home and go to bed, but to do something because we're nurses can make a bigger difference longer term than just the extra hour you stayed awake," she said.
Although helping people is in her blood, Ms. Davis said she doesn't consider herself a hero.
"That seems like such a big term because that's what I do every day," she said. "It comes so natural for me to take care of people. It doesn't seem like I did anything we shouldn't all be always doing."
Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: email@example.com.