Lakeview Regional Medical Center, a campus of Tulane Medical Center, recently recognized local first responders for their quick response and compassionate care by presenting them with “Challenge Coins”. On Friday, March 19, Fire District 4 paramedic Johnny Bautista, EMT Joshua Novoa, and 911 dispatcher Jamie Cagle had a reunion with a patient they had responded to in early December 2020.

Challenge Coins are given to emergency medical professionals to honor excellent performance in response time, assessment or treatment of a patient in the field and for compassionate care that leads to a positive impact on the overall outcome of the patient. Lakeview Regional has designed unique and individually numbered Challenge Coins and held a ceremony at Lakeview Regional during the reunite to present them.

On December 7, 2020, Gwyn Babin and her daughter Melanie were Christmas shopping at a home furnishings store in Mandeville when Babin suffered a medical emergency. Melanie thought it might have been a diabetic episode and called 911 immediately. Cagle promptly determined through a series of questions that Babin was having a stroke. Bautista and Novia arrived on the scene quickly and transported Babin to Lakeview Regional within 11 minutes. The quick assessment and rapid response from this team of first responders was a pivotal factor in the patient’s positive outcome.

“From the first moment the medics arrived through my admission into the emergency department, I remember feeling so safe and secure,” said Babin. “There was a team of physicians and nurses waiting to take care of me at the emergency room doors. I received tPA, and in less than 50 minutes from the start of my symptoms, I was feeling nearly back to normal.”

During Babin’s hospital stay, the medical team discovered she had a congenital heart defect, and it created a significant risk of sudden cardiovascular death. Dr. Gabriel Lasala and Dr. Omer Iftikhar (of Lakeview Regional Physician Group) collaborated on fixing a hole in her heart that would have been fatal if left untreated.

Lakeview’s stroke program coordinator, Jessie Clement, spoke with emotion about being part of a stroke response team. “I’m so excited and blessed to be part of this reunite. Our team has put significant effort into preparing, planning, and perfecting our response, and seeing positive outcomes like Mrs. Babin’s is such an incredible reward.”

911 Dispatcher Jamie Cagle spoke of Melanie Babin as a key member of the emergency response team. “Mrs. Babin’s daughter was the hero because she called 911, and then she was able to remain calm. I was able to put my 10 years of emergency dispatching into action successfully and use my skills as a trained EMD because Melanie made that call”.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stroke is the first step in saving a patients’ life. If an individual exhibits any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately:

  • sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm,or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • sudden severe headache with no known cause