CDC employees receive commendation for saving two children

By DENISE CASKEYApril 14, 2023

From left: Brendaline Avent Battle, Schrie Branson, Rachelle Hawkins, Nichole Myers and Minja Warren pose for a photo March 28 at the Cody Child Development Center on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. On two separate occasions in winter 2023, the quick actions of the group helped save the lives of two military children.
From left: Brendaline Avent Battle, Schrie Branson, Rachelle Hawkins, Nichole Myers and Minja Warren pose for a photo March 28 at the Cody Child Development Center on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. On two separate occasions in winter 2023, the quick actions of the group helped save the lives of two military children. (Photo Credit: Denise Caskey) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, VA – On two separate occasions in winter 2023, the quick thinking and actions of a group of Child and Youth Services program assistants at the Cody Child Development Center on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall saved the lives of two small children who experienced febrile seizures.

Their heroic efforts earned them a commendation from joint base command, and on March 22 they were presented with commander’s coins by Col. David Bowling, joint base commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Fisher, the senior enlisted adviser for the joint base.

Brendaline Avent Battle, Nichole Myers, Minja Warren, Rachelle Hawkins and Schrie Branson work in the baby and toddler rooms at the CDC. Between them, they have several decades of experience working with small children as well as extensive training in first aid and CPR.

Room 105

Warren was working in the toddler room Feb. 1 when she noticed that something was off with the behavior of a 2-year-old girl in her care.

Warren said the child was happy and playing earlier in the day, and there was no indication she wasn’t feeling well. Later, however, the child’s behavior changed, and Warren knew something was wrong.

“She was doing a lot more crying than usual, but when I would console her, she seemed OK,” Warren said. “When it was snack time, she wouldn’t eat, which is definitely not like her. She was just sitting there crying, and there was nothing I could do that was helping her.”

When the child stood up, Warren said she could see that the girl was somewhat incoherent, and when she touched her, the girl seemed hot to the touch. When she checked her temperature, it was elevated, but not alarmingly high. Warren said a later check showed her temperature had gone up.

Myers, who was working with Warren in the toddler room, said the child was moved to isolation while she waited for her parents to arrive. While she was in isolation, she had a seizure and became unresponsive.

Just as she was coming out of the seizure, her father arrived. Myers said he became extremely emotional, and she did what she could do to console him.

“He was crying,” Myers said. “He tried to get her attention. I think he feared that she might not make it and he kept begging her, ‘Please talk to me. Daddy loves you. I’m here with you.’ And I guess just seeing that and knowing how afraid he was, the only thing that I could do was assure him that EMTs were on the way and she’d be getting the care she needed so that he could have some sort of ease from the fear that he might lose his daughter.”

Room 102

The second incident happened March 14 in the baby room.

As the children were getting up from naps and preparing for lunch, Hawkins was changing the diaper on a 17-month-old girl when she noted that the child felt warm to the touch. She took her temperature and it was high, so she alerted Battle, who was sitting with other children eating lunch. Battle called for a manager.

Later as Battle was preparing to leave and Branson was coming in to take over, Hawkins asked Branson to check the child as well to confirm what she and Battle were seeing.

“I’m like, ‘Ms. Schrie, can you touch her, please? See how warm she is?’” Hawkins said. “Then, I’m looking at her cheeks, and her cheeks are red.”

From that point, Hawkins said, everything happened quickly.

Hawkins said she looked away and began attending to another child, and when she looked back, she saw that the girl was having a seizure.

“Ms. Battle’s about to leave and I call her, ‘Ms. Battle. Ms. Battle, please call 911,’” Hawkins said. “Then the ball started rolling. (The girl) had actually stopped breathing, and Ms. Schrie started CPR on her until she came back around.”

While Hawkins and Branson were tending to the girl, Battle jumped into action to shuffle the other children away from the area.

“Once everything kicked in, I knew I had to get those babies to the other side of the room,” Battle said. “I was handing babies off left and right. I wanted to make sure everybody had their space and the babies were happy. By the time they realized what was going on, it was time to go play.”

The girl’s mother arrived just as EMTs were loading her into the ambulance, and Hawkins said she did her best to console the crying woman.

“I’m an affectionate person and a hugger,” Hawkins said. “I was just hugging her on the ambulance and stuff like that. These kids become an extended family. We’re like family here. We love and care about each other.”

The calm during the storm

Adrenaline was running high; however, the women were able to respond to each incident in a calm and professional manner.

Myers said she was able to remain calm because at that particular moment, she felt the fears and emotions of the child and her family were more important, and she wanted to make sure she was a rock they could lean on.

Branson said she is naturally a calm person, and she just did what needed to be done.

“It was just a reaction,” Branson said. “I took charge and did what I was trained to do. We encouraged her. We talked to her and let her know that her teachers were there. Overall, we were all very calm when we handled the situation.”

After things calmed down and the children were taken care of, the women were able to take a breath and assess what had happened. They were quick to acknowledge that without the efforts of the entire team, including the people at the front desk, they could not have done what they needed to do.

“We’re just happy that there was a great ending,” Hawkins said.” The babies are fine. Everything is alright, and we’re grateful for that.”

For more stories about the people of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall visit https://home.army.mil/jbmhh/index.php