OKLAHOMA CAPITOL -- It started out as a routine morning for four employees of the Seminole County office of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS). Shelly Wood, Sonya Bradberry, Ranea Lantz and Peggy Ellwanger were coming back from a morning business trip to Shawnee in early December when they spotted something unusual.
“Off in the distance we noticed a woman sitting in her car with the window rolled down,” Ellwanger said. “It was a cold December morning, and when we saw that open window, the whole scene disturbed us."
“We went over to see about her, and her head was laying back on the car seat, with her face looking out toward the window, yet her eyes were closed,” Ellwanger said. “She appeared to be either in shock or unconscious.”
The car itself was parked at an odd angle, Ellwanger said, with the front tires almost up on the curb. The engine was running, and the woman was slumped in the seat, her purse on her lap and a cell phone beside her.
“Somehow we managed to reach over and put the car in park, while another of our group called for help,” Ellwanger added. “We tried talking to her, and at one point her eyes opened but she slipped right back into unconsciousness again.”
Moments later an ambulance arrived, followed by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) and two police officers from Shawnee. The OHP officer looked in the woman’s purse and found a medical card that said “diabetic.” He also found a number in the cell phone and called the woman’s husband.
“On that particular day there were people all around in cars and on foot, but no one stopped to help this poor woman until we made an effort. As DHS workers, that’s what our job and our mission is all about, and it felt really good to think we had a little something to do with maybe saving someone’s life,” Ellwanger said.
“As the ambulance was leaving, one of the Shawnee police officers turned to us, gave us two ‘thumbs up,’ and said ‘Good work, ladies!’”
For their heroic efforts, Ellwanger, Wood, Bradberry and Lantz will each receive a Director’s Commendation at the Jan. 24, 2012 Commission meeting.