Published on January 11, 2017

Routine Trip Home Changes Quickly

Linda Howard takes the same route home every day from Genesis. The route includes Marquette Street in Davenport.

The routine trip home on Dec. 29 became anything but routine for the clinical integration program manager.

Routine trip home quickly changesAs she began to accelerate from a stop light, two young women ran out of an apartment in a panic. Seconds later, what she describes as “a whoosh of fire,’’ chased the women from the apartment.

“They ran out the door screaming. They were shouting ‘help us, help us, we have to get people out,’’’ Howard said.

By then thick smoke was billowing out of the windows of the apartment complex.

Howard parked her car at Bethany Home offices nearby and headed for the door next to the apartment on fire. Appearing at the door was an older gentleman leaning on a cane. He was having difficulty escaping from the scene.

“I took one of his arms and another tenant named Amanda appeared and I asked her to grab his other arm. He was slow and shuffling his feet. I said, ‘we’ve got to keep moving and get out of here.’ We could hear things starting to pop and there was smoke billowing from the building,’’ Howard recalled. “He actually jumped and stopped walking at one point because of a mini-explosion inside. We had to tell him to “keep moving, Earl.”

“We finally got Earl and another tenant now standing in the cold into my car. Earl was worried about his roommate’s cat. Amanda said, “Earl that cat probably got out of there faster than you!’’

Howard asked the other tenant if she had family and if she had anywhere to go.

“She was crying and just pointed at the building,’’ Howard said. “It was so sad. I felt awful for them. What do you say to someone who is watching their home in flames, knowing they are losing everything?’’

Possibly because of Howard’s intervention, Earl was homeless but safe.

It wasn’t the first time Howard had responded when help was needed.

The latest incident brought back memories…she witnessed and responded to a serious car-truck accident several years ago and helped a woman out of the vehicle, which had rolled end-over-end down a steep embankment and stopped against a tree. She smelled gasoline as she and her husband assisted the woman out of the car.
She also once started CPR on a person with no pulse during a church service.

“There was a hush at first and then you could hear prayers being said,’’ Howard said. “The sermon that day was about being prepared to die and I later learned the woman’s last name was Kirchner; Kirche means church in German.

“It seems I have a way of being put in the path of these occurrences,” she said.

We consider it the right place at the right time.

The Genesis mission of providing quality, compassionate health services to all those in need does not end at the end of the day and doesn’t end within the walls of Genesis facilities.