Trident Medical Center’s Deleah Pickler, BSN, RN, CNOR, recently found her medical training and instincts tested when we she received an alert on her neighborhood Facebook page about a missing three-year-old boy. Pickler, who has two children, walked down the sidewalk of her home searching for the child and soon heard sounds coming from a car.

“It was a hot day and the kids in the neighborhood were playing a game of hide-and-seek,” recalled Pickler. “The child had climbed into an unlocked car, but he couldn’t get out. I opened the door and saw him barely moving. He was unresponsive and red all over. The temperature in the car was well over 100 degrees.”

It was obvious to Pickler the child was in distress. “I picked him up and dialed 9-1-1 as I rushed to our house where I started putting cold water and ice packs on him. His body temperature began cooling and by the time EMS arrived he was showing signs of being more conscious. He was taken to the hospital where he recovered. Thankfully, he’s doing well with no signs of the experience that was nearly fatal.”

For her quick action Pickler was recognized by Rear Admiral Peter Brown, Commander of Coast Guard District Seven, based in Miami, Florida. Deleah’s husband, Senior Chief Justin Pickler, serves as the Officer in Charge of Coast Guard Station Georgetown, SC.

Deleah recognized by Admiral Peter Brown.

Deleah recognized by Admiral Peter Brown.

Speaking at a ceremony on her behalf, Brown said, “Her response that day is a testament to her vigilance and her willingness to engage when a situation required her help. She had the specialized skills needed to ensure the child was medically okay. It was her will to get involved that made the difference and saved the child’s life and that’s a testament to not just her, but also to the whole Coast Guard family.”

“I was at the right place at the right time,” said Pickler. “I’m happy I had the skill set and knew how to respond. We hear a lot about the dangers of leaving children in cars. I hope we’re mindful of also leaving cars unlocked. It’s summertime and children like to play outside. To a child an unlocked car can look like a hideout. The temperature rises quickly in cars in the summer and it doesn’t take long for the heat to overpower a child.”

Just days after her life-saving experience Trident Medical Center posted a video of Pickler on the hospital’s Facebook page, where she recalled the event and urged families to create neighborhood Facebook pages. “I believe our page and the alert being sent quickly were instrumental in saving the life of this child.” The video has received more than 50,000 views.

Pickler, a 13-year nurse, said her inspiration for entering healthcare was her mom. “I knew from a very early age that I had an interest in caring for others. My mother went through nursing school when I was 14 years old. From that moment on I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.”