It has been said that we don’t know who we truly are until we’re faced with a crisis.
During such events, individuals must rely on intuition to make decisions with life or death consequences. Heroes are sometimes born as a result.
Today’s GIFTED Spotlight is the story Jennifer Burns, a GIFTED team member who displayed courage, dignity, and true compassion when it was needed most.
Jennifer’s Path to GIFTED
Jennifer was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in a close-knit family. As an adult, she pursued her education as a medical assistant in Nevada, but still returns home every summer to visit relatives.
For the past four years, she has worked for Robison Medical Resource Group, a GIFTED Healthcare company that provides healthcare professionals with government medical jobs. She is currently the lead phone triage employee at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nellis AFB’s phone triage team members are responsible for assessing callers’ requests for medical attention. Phone triage employees redirect patients to the proper department depending on their needs.
Jennifer has been called the “go-to” member of her team by her coworkers. In late September of 2019, she proved them to be correct beyond all doubt.
A Distressed Caller
On September 27, 2019, Jennifer came into work at Nellis Air Force Base. She recalled that it was a typical Friday – her team was wrapping up the week, excitedly sharing plans for the weekend.
That afternoon, Jennifer received a call from an individual trying to pick up a prescribed medication from the base. After just a few moments, Jennifer sensed that something was wrong.
“The caller told me that he was looking for medication prescribed for his depression,” said Jennifer. “He hadn’t taken it for a few days and said he wasn’t feeling right.”
Shortly after, the caller began making threats.
“He told us that he was going to come to the base and start shooting everyone,” she said.
Patience & Compassion
The threat would have frightened almost anyone, but Jennifer didn’t panic. She relied on intuition and compassion to deescalate the situation.
“I let him know that his prescription was filled, and that we would work to deliver it to him as soon as possible,” she said.
At this point, Jennifer alerted the police and contacted Internal Medicine to locate the caller’s prescription. However, her primary focus was keeping the caller calm enough to reason with him.
“We didn’t know where he was, so we went on lockdown,” Jennifer said solemnly. “My only goal was to keep everyone safe – to keep him safe, to keep his family safe, and to keep everybody at Nellis safe.”
To avoid frightening the distressed caller, the police asked Jennifer to remain on the phone with him. Despite being an immediate threat to her safety, Jennifer said that she felt sympathy for the caller’s situation.
“I just handled it the only way I knew how,” she said. “I kept him on the line and let him know we were going to help him any way we could.”
Jennifer displayed a level of patience and compassion that is nothing short of inspirational. Over the course of 22 minutes, she worked to find common ground, urging the caller to reconsider his plans for violence and assuring him that he would soon receive his medication and feel better.
“I explained that violence would solve nothing,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot and I’ve been through a lot, so…just for me to help one person, to avoid one mass shooting, that meant a lot to me.”
Jennifer kept the caller on the phone long enough for police to locate and take him into custody.
A Much-Deserved Honor
GIFTED Healthcare is honored to call Jennifer Burns a member of our team. Her heroic actions reflect our values in their ideal form.
Jennifer was given a rare honor by the US military for her incredible courage and sensitivity. It was personally delivered by Colonel Alfred K. Flowers, commander of Nellis Air Force Base.
When asked how she manages to uphold the GIFTED way in her daily routine, Jennifer’s answer made us smile.
“I treat every patient like they’re family and do my best to make sure they’re happy at the end of the call. Every day, I try to walk out of my job with a clear heart, knowing I did what was right for Nellis Air Force Base and GIFTED.”
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