The fierce storms that pounded the area seemed to have focused their efforts on Polk Medical Center. The National Weather Service indicated a little over an inch of rain fell in Cedartown, but weather spotters measured three and a quarter inches of precipitation at the hospital in a 40-minute period.
That storm set off a chain of events that proved to be one of the most challenging in the history of the hospital.
A lightning strike caused the alarms in the Polk Medical Office Building to squeal, sending Plant Facilities employees Chris McAdams and Tony Jenkins to the building’s main entrance to assess the storm and reset the system.
The two stepped outside the door to better see how the parking lots on the hospital campus were holding up to the downpour. They had just cleared the door when Chris saw a car plunge into a deep, rain-filled ditch near the hospital’s entrance. The driver, headed to a doctor’s appointment, had missed her turn in the blinding rain.
Chris and Tony rushed to the car and quickly realized the water was carrying it further down the ditch. They could hear the driver scream, begging someone to get her out. Water was filling her car and threatening to flip it over. The driver could not get her door open, and the water had risen to her neck. Chris and Tony knew they had to act quickly, but they first had to stop the car from moving.
The pair jumped into the ditch and manhandled the vehicle, serving as rudders to guide it until it came to rest. The front of the car was lodged in the concrete culvert that serves to divert the rain from the hospital, effectively damming the flow of the water.
Now neck-deep themselves and the water quickly rising further, Chris and Tony convinced the woman, who could not swim, to lower her window so they could pull her out. Working together, the pair freed her from her seat belt and floated her to safety.
With the rescue complete, 911 alerted, and their patient safe and cared for, the Polk staff’s attention turned to another worry. The now-dammed culvert had caused the hospital’s parking lot to quickly fill with water.
It was a day like no other. In addition to the alarm, the rescue and the flooded parking lot, several other systems were impacted by the storms. And, significantly, every issue was handled. Chris and Tony continued to work the rest of the day, still in their wet clothes, making sure the hospital was safe for the people who need it.
Tifani Kinard, Polk Medical Center Administrator, said she and her staff agree that there was divine intervention that day. With poor visibility and fast-rising water, no one would ever have known a car was in the ditch if lightning had not set off the alarms. The driver’s life may well have been saved because Chris and Tony were in the right place at the right time for a rescue.